Proton VPN Review 2024 – A Fast and Secure VPN That Comes with a Free Basic Version
What sets Proton VPN apart from other VPN providers is its invaluable arsenal of advanced security features that allow users to bypass the strictest geo-restrictions and anonymously browse the internet under the robust protection of Proton VPN’s security protocols. Since it started as a crowdfunded project, Proton VPN continues to be fundamentally supported by its community and developed with valuable input from the community of privacy-loving users.
Proton VPN Pros&Cons | Check Positive and Negative Sides
- Free version available
- Open source apps
- A global network of high-speed servers
- Dedicated servers for torrenting and streaming
- Expensive pricing plans
- No browser extensions
Proton VPN Features Table Summary
|Number of devices with one license
|Number of countries
|Number of servers
|Comprehensive online support center
Proton VPN: Use Cases
Trusted by activists and journalists from around the world, Proton VPN is an excellent VPN service for anonymous browsing, streaming, gaming, and torrenting. A strict no-logs policy under Swiss privacy laws combined with Secure Core servers protected by full disk encryption ensures that torrenting and streaming geo-restricted content with Proton VPN is smooth as well as secure. Easy to navigate and use, Proton VPN’s modern UI is a joy to use. Proton VPN’s open-source apps are independently audited by SEC Consult and the full results of such audits are available online.
However, what sets Proton VPN apart from its nearest competitors like ExpressVPN or CyberGhost VPN is not its price or plethora of features but its dedication to protecting the privacy of its users. In addition to strong encryption and security protocols, Proton VPN further fortifies its apps with unique security features rarely found in other VPN apps. A few of these extra features include NetShield, VPN Accelerator, Forward Secrecy, and Stealth VPN.
NetShield is a DNS filtering feature that blocks ads, protects users from malware, and prevents website trackers from tracking the online activities of users. With the help of sophisticated networking techniques that reduce latency, VPN Accelerator, a unique Proton VPN feature, can drastically increase VPN speeds by overcoming CPU limitations that affect the processing of VPN protocols. Proton VPN secures each VPN session with unique encryption keys and protects your browsing history with perfect forward secrecy (PFS).
Setup VPN on MacOS
How to setup ProtonVPN on MacOS Tutorial
Proton VPN Features Overview
Headquartered in Switzerland, Proton VPN is protected by stringent data privacy laws and remains outside the jurisdiction of US and EU laws. Switzerland is also not a member of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance network and as such cannot be coerced into collecting or sharing confidential user data.
Proton VPN has a strict no-logs policy backed by privacy-friendly Swiss laws. Proton VPN’s no-logs policy extends to its free VPN app and applies to all users. Proton VPN does not monitor IP addresses, log session lengths, or record the online activities of its users. Furthermore, Swiss laws prevent the company from saving user data or targeting specific users.
Proton VPN offers a built-in Kill Switch feature, also known as the Always-on VPN feature, which protects your IP address and DNS queries from leaking in the event of a sudden loss of VPN connection. While the kill switch immediately blocks all network traffic if and when the VPN connection drops, the always-on feature automatically reconnects to a secure VPN server.
With a single Proton VPN license, users can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously. However, the Proton VPN free can connect only 1 device at a time. Proton VPN offers multi-platform support with native apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, Android TV, iOS, and Chromebook.
Proton VPN boasts an extensive server network of 2978 servers across 68 countries. The company offers 104 Secure Core servers in 68 privacy-friendly countries for superior security and privacy to Plus plan users. Plus plan users will also enjoy access to 2727 Plus servers that support streaming, ad-blocking, P2P file sharing, BitTorrent, and Tor over VPN. The company also offers 3 free servers in Japan, Amsterdam, and the USA. While top VPN companies like SurfShark (3200+), NordVPN (6000+), and IPVanish VPN (2200+) offer a greater number of servers, not many can compete with the speed and functionality of Proton VPN’s Secure Core servers and optimized Plus servers.
When it comes to Torrent support, Proton VPN does not fool around. With over 1500 servers that support P2P file-sharing protocols, Proton VPN is an ideal app for Torrent users if ever there is one. Additionally, Proton VPN supports Tor over VPN, thus allowing users to route their internet traffic through the Tor network with one click.
Proton VPN supports streaming services and it allowed me to unblock geo-restricted content on not only Netflix but also HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and YouTube, among others. Quite an achievement I would say, considering not many of its nearest competitors can successfully unblock restricted videos on YouTube let alone unblock the likes of Netflix and BBC iPlayer. Overall, I consider Proton VPN as one of the best VPN apps for torrenting and streaming geo-restricted content.
For security and protection, Proton VPN relies on the robust 256-bit AES encryption along with 4096-bit RSA for key exchange and HMAC with SHA384 for message authentication. Couple that with secure tunneling protocols like IKEv2, OpenVPN, and WireGuard, and you have a secure VPN service that offers reliable protection. There is also a unique Stealth VPN protocol that enables users to avoid detection and bypass strict internet censorship or VPN blocks in restrictive countries.
Server speed tests
Proton VPN Server Speed Tests
Proton VPN claims to offer fast servers with 10 Gbps capabilities. To put Proton VPN’s lofty claims to test, I checked the speed of several Proton VPN servers on speedtest.net and compared it with the standard speed of my internet connection. The download and upload speeds of my internet connection without a VPN were 49.38 Mbps and 7.20 Mbps, respectively.
First, I connected to a Proton VPN server in London, UK which recorded a download speed of 38.31 Mbps and an upload speed of 6.61 Mbps. The download speed decreased by approximately 22% but there was no difference in the browsing speed. I streamed videos on YouTube without buffering and downloaded a file from Torrent without lags or issues.
On connecting to a server in Vienna, Austria, the download speed dropped by 37% to 31.10 Mbps and the upload speed decreased by 17% to 5.96 Mbps. While a 37% decrease in download speed may seem too much, it was barely noticeable while browsing and watching YouTube videos.
The Proton VPN server in New York, USA further decreased the download speed to 29.74 Mbps but the upload speed was a respectable 6.23 Mbps. Much like the previous servers, the download and upload speeds were decent enough to allow seamless streaming and smooth browsing. I was even able to stream a show or two from Netflix’s US library on the New York server.
The final server I tested was in Tokyo, Japan, and it recorded a download speed of 19.46 Mbps and an upload speed of 6.13 Mbps. While general web browsing on this server was without issues, I encountered some lags and buffering when streaming videos on YouTube or downloading files from the internet. Overall, Proton VPN does offer consistent high speeds on its servers unless you connect to one far away from your actual location.
Proton VPN Users’ Feedback and Ratings
To understand Proton VPN’s appeal among the masses, I scoured several social media platforms and different VPN forums. Users on Facebook and Twitter unanimously praised the performance and reliability of Proton VPN’s apps but also bashed the company for not providing decent customer service. A common complaint among several users on social media was the long wait times to receive a response from Proton VPN’s customer service team. Nonetheless, the users overlooked the arguably abysmal customer service in favor of the several advanced features and overall usability of the Proton VPN apps.
I also visited consumer review sites like Trustpilot and SiteJabber to read real user reviews of Proton VPN. Despite its arsenal of advanced features that other VPN companies do not provide, Proton VPN earned a poor TrustScore of 2.3 out of 5 stars from 217 reviews. However, I noted that most of the negative reviews were regarding the company’s pricing plans and customer service. While Proton VPN’s customer service indeed leaves a lot to be desired, it was bemusing to read users complaining about the arguably high pricing of a product that they willfully bought with full knowledge of the prices.
Unsurprisingly, most of the negative reviews had nothing much to say about the performance or usability of the Proton VPN apps. On the other hand, the positive reviews on Trustpilot praised not only the paid version of Proton VPN but also the free version which many users claimed to be better than most paid VPN apps available in the market. It is best to take such user reviews, be it on social media or review websites, with a grain of salt. The most trustable review of any VPN app that you will come across will be yours after you use the app.
Google Trends and Comparison with Competitors
Google Trends is an analytical website by Google that compares the popularity of various search queries in Google Search across different regions. I used Google Trends to study such keywords as “Proton VPN”, “PureVPN”, and “CyberGhost VPN” in my bid to understand the interest in these keywords over the past 12 months within the USA.
Interest in the topic “Proton VPN” has been consistently higher than average over the last 12 months in the USA. Such high interest in a search term over a considerable period can be attributed to several factors, including but not limited to, upcoming elections in the USA, lenient data privacy laws in the region, and recent updates released by Proton VPN. The interest in “Proton VPN” has recently peaked most likely due to an increase in the demand for online privacy across the world.
The comparative study between “Proton VPN”, “PureVPN”, and “CyberGhost VPN” came out unanimously in favor of “Proton VPN”. Despite their cheaper pricing plans, CyberGhost VPN and PureVPN could not come close to the average interest in Proton VPN in the past 12 months. While the interest in “CyberGhost VPN” was similar to that in “Proton VPN” during November 2021, it decreased thereafter while interest in the latter increased dramatically.
DNS leak test
Proton VPN: DNS Leak Test
DNS leaks pose a serious risk to users’ privacy as they expose personal identifiers such as IP address, browsing history, and online activity to third parties and ISPs. I tested Proton VPN’s servers on dnsleaktest.com, ipleak.net, and dnsleak.com to find DNS leaks, IP leaks, or WebRTC leaks. During several standard and extended tests using different servers, I did not find any DNS or IPv6 leaks while my device was connected to Proton VPN.
Proton VPN not only encrypts your online internet traffic but also protects your online privacy by preventing DNS leaks. Proton VPN automatically encrypts users’ DNS requests and has a DNS server to resolve DNS requests. This prevents third parties like your ISP and DNS provider from accessing your DNS requests.
Should You Buy It?
Though not as cheap as its nearest competitors, Proton VPN offers an excellent VPN service through advanced features, strict security protocols, and an extensive network of fast servers. The company’s penchant for privacy shines through its open-source apps and strict no-logs policy. An impressive VPN service with an even more impressive community of users, Proton VPN unblocks geo-restricted websites, protects your online privacy, and lets you Torrent to your heart’s will. Barring a customer support service riddled with slow response times, I have no qualms about recommending Proton VPN to my friends and family members.
- Based in Switzerland
- Independently audited
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Limited customer support options