ProtonVPN Review (2022): Is It Worth The Money? (Full Test)
ProtonVPN is a secure VPN service provided by Switzerland-based Proton Technologies AG, which also created ProtonMail, the world’s largest encrypted email service.
While Proton’s VPN service was once a separate entity, the company has recently rebranded itself and bundled all its services into one privacy-geared ecosystem called Proton. Now, when you create a Proton account or log into your active one, you’ll have access to their full range of services — including ProtonVPN, ProtonMail, Proton Calendar, and Proton Drive.
ProtonVPN has both a free and paid version, as do Proton’s other offerings. Though having access to these other privacy-conscious services is a nice bonus, our review and score are based solely on the VPN itself.
ProtonVPN puts privacy, anonymity, and encryption above all else to ensure users’ online security. We also tested it to see how effective it is for everyday use. Can it unblock Netflix? Does it offer good download speeds for torrents? Can you use it to browse anonymously? We answer these questions and more in our full ProtonVPN review.
ProtonVPN – Short Review
|Easy to install and use||No live chat|
|Lots of options||On the expensive side|
|No data logs|
|Works to stream Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video|
|Torrenting is allowed|
|Secure Core servers for extra safety|
|Free limited version|
ProtonVPN has a long track record of advocating for online privacy and security. It was created by developers devoted to boosting user cybersecurity and online freedom. The company is headquartered in Geneva, which has some of the strongest privacy laws in the world. This explains their ability to maintain a strict no-logging policy.
ProtonVPN offers a solid security package paired with 1700+ servers in 60+ countries. Its VPN clients manage to stay beginner-friendly while offering plenty of advanced features. The company operates dedicated P2P servers and does its best to unblock popular streaming platforms. It even maintains a completely free limited version of its software.
So, can this technical juggernaut compete with the leaders in the market? Keep reading our ProtonVPN review to find out.
- Torrenting allowed
- Works with Netflix
- Zero logs
- Credit card
Speed – How Fast is ProtonVPN?
Nobody likes buffer circles and crawling downloads. Streaming, gaming, and browsing should be swift and without lag. However, this is not always the case, especially when heavy encryption is involved. Unfortunately, many VPNs can significantly slow down your internet connection.
We’re happy to report that ProtonVPN offers great speeds that will prove adequate for most users. That’s why we gave it a 9/10 for speed. Here are the main conclusions after our ProtonVPN speed test:
- The speed tests showed good speeds, both with local and distant servers.
- We saw no major fluctuations during day-to-day use.
Speed test results – ProtonVPN
We ran some speed tests on ProtonVPN from our headquarters in the Netherlands. The table below shows the results according to speedtest.net. We first tested our connection without a VPN and then again using major ProtonVPN servers. Depending on your location and internet speed, you might get different results. So, you can view this table as an indicator of potential performance.
|Server||Download (MBPS)||Upload (MBPS)||Ping (MS)|
|US East (New York)||174.89||160.82||184|
|US West (LA)||143.22||137.6||328|
|The UK (London)||130.46||210.45||48|
|Brazil (Sao Paulo)||152.11||190.34||229|
|South Africa (Johannesburg)||131.26||179.20||337|
ProtonVPN’s speed test results range from good to impressive. We were especially surprised to see our benchmark speed actually increase on some servers. We traditionally get weaker performance in Japan and other distant locations but Proton held its own even with astronomical pings. ProtonVPN wasn’t this agile in the past and we’re glad to see such improvement in that regard. As it stands, Proton is a true beast when it comes to sheer speed. If most of your daily tasks hinge on speed, ProtonVPN will definitely meet your needs and then some.
During our tests, we didn’t have any problems with lag or sudden connection drops. ProtonVPN managed to provide us with a smooth experience in spite of high latency on faraway servers. Connecting to any server took us mere seconds.
Speed during daily use
Given these speed test results, we were curious to know how ProtonVPN performs during everyday use and light surfing. While browsing, we encountered little to no hiccups. Downloading torrents was just as quick. We could also watch YouTube videos as usual without extended buffering periods.
Accessing and streaming Netflix US and other region-locked content on the app worked great, as well. However, note that unblocking content from other countries isn’t possible with the free plan.
You have to subscribe to the ProtonVPN Plus plan to unblock other countries’ Netflix catalogs. As for gaming, ProtonVPN held its own; keeping the latency to under 100ms for servers in the same country for multiplayer FPS games.
Safety – How Secure is ProtonVPN?
Security is one of the most important aspects of any VPN. We rely on these services to encrypt our traffic, hide our real IP, and refrain from recording our private data. In other words, good VPNs should protect you from themselves as well as online threats. ProtonVPN gets an 8/10 for its current security setup.
Here’s a brief overview of Proton VPN’s main security features:
- ProtonVPN uses OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols.
- It implements a strict no-logging policy.
- It comes with an automatic kill switch.
- To create an account, ProtonVPN only needs your email address.
The security, speed, and flexibility of your VPN will largely depend on its collection of VPN protocols. ProtonVPN supports the best tunnels out there while avoiding outdated (and compromised) options like PPTP, for example.
Here’s a full list of ProtonVPN’s connection protocols:
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP): The most popular option thanks to its excellent balance between speed and security. It’s available on all Proton VPN apps.
- WireGuard: A relative newcomer that has quickly become our favorite and could also be the future of modern VPNs. Even NordVPN used it as the basis for their NordLynx protocol. WireGuard is available on all apps, except for Linux.
- IKEv2: Good for mobile users and frequent travelers due to its powerful reconnection capabilities. However, we recommend using IKEv2 only if OpenVPN or WireGuard are not available. Proton VPN supports IKEv2 on macOS, Android, and iOS.
If you’re not exactly protocol-savvy, you can enable the “Smart Protocol” option to let Proton pick one for you automatically. It will use tunnels and ports that provide optimal connectivity on your network. This is the default setting so you don’t have to change anything if you want this option.
OpenVPN and IKEv2 use AES-256 cipher, while WireGuard employs ChaCha20. Both encryption methods are solid and unbreakable even by the most advanced supercomputers we have today. AES is widely known as military-grade encryption, but it’s also used by banks, hospitals, and other institutions.
ProtonVPN also supports perfect forward secrecy. This means that it generates a new encryption key for every session. So, even if hackers manage to crack your session key, it becomes useless the moment you turn Proton VPN off.
Logging and privacy
ProtonVPN is headquartered in Switzerland, which is known for its relaxed privacy legislation. The country isn’t a part of the 14 Eyes intelligence group and is exempt from the many rules of the European Union. For these reasons, Switzerland is generally seen as a VPN-friendly location. It doesn’t force providers to log customer data and hand it over on demand.
The company boasts a strict no-logging policy, so let’s take a closer look at the data they collect:
- Personal info: Your registration credentials.
- Payment info: Proton uses third-party payment processors and only saves the last four digits of your credit card. However, you can further anonymize your payment by using Bitcoin or cash.
- Non-personal info: Local installation of Matomo analytics tool when visiting the website, aggregate, anonymous statistics when using the apps (crash reports, type of devices, operating systems, etc.).
ProtonVPN regularly submits its software and infrastructure to third-party security audits. The most recent one was performed by Securitum, a company that conducts 300+ security testing projects every year. The security specialists have reviewed ProtonVPN’s configuration files, servers, and operating procedures and confirmed the company’s dedication to its strict no-logging policy. In other words, Securitum’s independent audit of ProtonVPN has proved that the company doesn’t log any info that could positively identify you or be used to mount an attack against you.
The Switzerland-based company’s technology has recently become open-source. This means everyone can take a look behind the scenes and inspect the technology behind the ProtonVPN app. It allows users to investigate whether the claims the company makes are correct. In fact, the company has undergone a full independent audit conducted by SEC Consult.
If your VPN malfunctions for whatever reason, a kill switch will cut your internet connection to prevent data leaks. ProtonVPN comes with an automatic kill switch but also takes one step further by introducing the so-called “permanent kill switch.”
“Regular” kill switches only block internet access when your VPN drops the connection. If you turn your client off, you’ll be able to go online without any issues. A permanent kill switch, however, doesn’t allow you to access the internet without turning your VPN on. Most users won’t need this level of protection but it’s a nice feature to have around. You can also use it as an impromptu internet blocker if you don’t want your children to go online without your supervision.
What information does ProtonVPN require?
To create a Proton account and access ProtonVPN premium, you need to share your email address and payment details.
When using the free version of Proton’s services, all you have to do is enter an email address. The payment page states that this email address is never shared with third parties and is only used for account-related questions, communication, and recovery. Of course, you could easily create a “fake” email address to avoid giving your real one.
For each paid ProtonVPN subscription, you must enter your payment details. When paying with PayPal or a credit card, you’ll have to share the relevant information.
Usability – How User-Friendly is ProtonVPN?
A good VPN should provide a secure and anonymous online experience without much effort on your part. Affordable pricing and good customer service also help with the accessibility of a VPN. Therefore, it’s important that a VPN is easy to operate, affordable, and backed by customer support. ProtonVPN is a pretty user-friendly service and it gets an 8/10 in that field.
Here’s an overview of the general user-friendliness of ProtonVPN. We looked at its website, installation process, app, pricing, and customer service. Our main findings are as follows:
- ProtonVPN’s website is packed with information but still easy to use.
- The apps offer a good mix of beginner-friendly and advanced features.
- The installation is quick and simple.
- ProtonVPN has a limited free version.
- ProtonVPN supports several payment methods, including Bitcoin.
- Customer service is helpful but works only through forms and email.
ProtonVPN website and installation process
In our ProtonVPN review, we found the homepage highly intuitive and navigable. Instantly, you see a link that leads directly to the payment page showcasing the different ProtonVPN subscriptions.
Scrolling down, you’ll find information on ProtonVPN’s different features and why you may want to choose this VPN. The homepage also shares tweets from users talking about their experiences, which adds to the company’s social proof.
The top bar allows you to navigate to the different pages on the website: About, Features, Pricing, Blog, and Support. A login button and direct links to ProtonVPN’s social media are also provided. The website is available in 17 different languages.
Clicking on “Get ProtonVPN Now” will take you to the pricing page, where you can choose between different ProtonVPN subscriptions. Choosing one will automatically take you to the payment page, where you can fill in your information.
After registering (and purchasing a subscription), you’ll gain access to your personal ProtonVPN dashboard. Here, you can view/upgrade your subscription, change your credentials, download clients for your devices, change the theme of the client, and much more.
The installation of ProtonVPN is quite effortless. It offers native apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Chromebook, and Android TV. You can use the premium version of ProtonVPN on up to 10 devices simultaneously, which is quite generous.
For this ProtonVPN review, we mainly tested its Windows client. Here are the steps you’ll have to go through during its installation:
- Go to ProtonVPN’s official website.
- Click on “Get ProtonVPN now” at the top of the home page.
- Choose a subscription package or click “Sign up for free.”
- Sign up with your chosen credentials.
- Download the installation file for your personal dashboard.
- Click on the downloaded file to start the installation.
- Follow the instruction.
After the installation, a log-in screen will pop up requesting your ProtonVPN credentials. Simply enter your username and password and you’ll gain access to your ProtonVPN client.
Note that ProtonVPN has to install WebView2 Runtime in order to function. This could add a couple of minutes to your installation. The setup will also check for other components required by Proton and install them if they’re missing.
ProtonVPN’s appearance and ease-of-use
ProtonVPN’s app is fairly easy to use but VPN beginners might get overwhelmed by all the advanced options. Those are reserved for power users and aren’t required for basic VPN functionality.
Most of the screen is taken up by a world map. The triangles in the map represent the different server locations you can choose from. At the bottom of the screen, you can track how much you’ve downloaded and uploaded during your current session, how fast your connection is, and the duration of your session.
The left side is reserved for connection options and some important functionalities like port forwarding, kill switch, and NetShield. All in all, the look of the entire dashboard is sleek, modern, and professional.
The hamburger menu icon in the top-left corner allows you to:
- Open the “About” window: Check the current version of your app and inspect changelogs
- Check your account info: Your subscription and account types
- Manage profiles: Check the existing profiles or create new ones
- Access the settings: Change the language, start minimized, start on boot, connect on app start, choose protocols, configure the accelerator, enable Moderate NAT and custom DNS servers, use port forwarding, protect against DNS leaks, and more.
- Get help: Visit the “Help” page on the site, contact customer support or report an issue.
ProtonVPN’s client supports 16 different languages, including English, German, Spanish, and more. So, wherever you live, chances are that you’ll be able to find a language that works for you.
Overall, ProtonVPN caters to both VPN beginners and power users alike. The basic functionality is quite easy to master and you’ll be using Proton effectively in no time. However, if you wish to dig deeper, there are plenty of advanced features to discover.
Pricing and payment methods
ProtonVPN is definitely not the cheapest VPN out there, but its price tag is quite justified. The service is packed with incredible features and every purchase comes with a full 30-day money-back guarantee.
Here are the premium subscription plans offered by ProtonVPN (simply called “ProtonVPN Plus”):
- 1 month: $9.99/month (billed $9.99 every month)
- 1 year: $5.99/month (billed $71.88 for the first year)
- 2 years: $4.99/month (billed $119.76 for the first two years)
Longer subscription plans are offered at a lower price to first-time customers. Once your discounted subscription expires, you’ll be paying $119.88/year for a 1-year plan and $239.76/ every two years for your 2-year subscription.
As already mentioned in this ProtonVPN review, the company offers a limited free plan. Offering a free VPN in today’s financial climate is beyond generous, no matter how limited.
Here’s how the free version differs from Proton’s premium plan:
- 100+ servers in three countries (the US, NL, JP)
- Medium VPN speed
- Only one VPN connection
- No Netflix
ProtonVPN accepts the following payment methods:
- Major credit cards
- Bank transfer
We particularly like the option of buying your VPN anonymously by using Bitcoin. Proton even lets you pay in cash as long as you have a ProtonVPN account. If you’re looking for other VPNs that accept cash payment, we recommend checking out Mullvad VPN as well.
ProtonVPN’s Terms of Service document mentions a full 30-day-money-back guarantee. However, it doesn’t say anything about payment methods where such action is simply impossible. For example, if you send cash in an unmarked envelope solely mentioning your account credentials, the company won’t be able to pay you back unless you reveal some other personal info.
There’s an expansive FAQ on the ProtonVPN website that provides answers to all sorts of questions. This is known as the “knowledge base,” which you’ll find under Support. If your question isn’t listed or if the provided answer hasn’t solved your problem, you can always contact the ProtonVPN support team.
There’s a link at the bottom of the Support page that’ll redirect you to a contact form. Enter your operating system, username, and email address, and explain your problem. The support team will get back to you via email within one or two business days.
When we presented a problem to the team for the purposes of this ProtonVPN review, we received an answer within a day. The customer service team provided us with a detailed explanation, sent us a link to a FAQ page, and asked us for more information about the issue. After we answered, they offered us several solutions.
What we can take away from this experience is that the support team is helpful. The customer service agents try to find out exactly what’s causing your problem and do their best to solve it. Apart from the fact that it may take a while for ProtonVPN to respond, this was a relatively good experience. The only way it could be improved would be if ProtonVPN introduced a live chat service.
Server Network ProtonVPN
An expansive and well-functioning server network is a huge advantage for any VPN provider. A broad network is useful if you want to bypass geo-blocking restrictions. A VPN provider with server locations in multiple countries offers a greater pool of choices, allowing you to bypass restrictions from virtually all over the globe. This applies to everything, from accessing regional streaming services to bypassing online censorship. ProtonVPN’s server network gets it an 8/10.
In this section, we’ll investigate the different servers and server locations ProtonVPN offers. Before we get into the details, some main points to keep in mind are:
- ProtonVPN has more than 1700+ servers in 60+ countries.
- ProtonVPN doesn’t offer dedicated IP addresses.
Servers and locations
At the time of writing, ProtonVPN has more than 1700+ servers in 60+ countries. The different server locations are:
- Americas: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, and United States
- Europe: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Ukraine, and United Kingdom
- Asia: Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, and Vietnam
- Oceania: Australia, and New Zealand
- Africa: Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa
ProtonVPN is continuously working to expand its server network, meaning the available countries and servers are constantly changing. Visit the website for an up-to-date list of locations.
ProtonVPN also offers dedicated P2P servers for safe file sharing, such as when torrenting. This feature is only available on the paid plans and not on ProtonVPN’s free version. Premium subscribers can also take advantage of Proton’s integration with the Tor browser to route all traffic through the Tor anonymity network.
Finally, ProtonVPN offers Secure Core servers, which add an extra layer of protection to your connection by creating a double tunnel. This means you’ll be connected to the server location of your choice via a Secure Core server in either Switzerland, Iceland, or Sweden.
This is invaluable when using ProtonVPN in risky locations such as Russia, China, Iran, or Turkey, which are known for their government surveillance. A Secure Core server routes your traffic through privacy-friendly countries so that it’s never tracked back to you.
Here are the Secure Core server options:
|Secure Core server||Server locations|
|Iceland||Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Ireland, Israel, The Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, United States|
|Sweden||Estonia, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan|
|Switzerland||Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States|
Dedicated IP address
At this time, ProtonVPN does not offer dedicated IP addresses. This means you can only use servers that are available to other customers, as well. In other words, you share an IP address with multiple people.
Sharing IP addresses with others using the same VPN is better for your personal safety and privacy; if everyone uses the same IP, especially if all the data on it is encrypted, it’s more difficult –if not impossible– to trace online traffic back to one person. For this reason, ProtonVPN only has dynamic, shared IP addresses.
ProtonVPN has several options that help you to access the internet privately. With ProtonVPN, you can access Netflix’s international catalog and download torrents anonymously. In this section, we’ll tell you more about each of these options, as well as ProtonVPN’s Secure Core features. Here are our main findings at a glance:
- It’s possible to watch American Netflix, although loading might take longer than usual depending on your location.
- ProtonVPN has specific P2P servers that allow you to download torrents safely.
- ProtonVPN’s Secure Core offers extra protection.
ProtonVPN and Netflix
A question that’s often asked about any VPN is whether you can use it to watch Netflix. Netflix tries to block VPNs from accessing its content because it is only licensed to stream certain content in specific regions.
However, many VPNs continue to try to get around these blocks. ProtonVPN is no exception, and it’s good at it, too. ProtonVPN works like a charm when it comes to unblocking Netflix from different regions, including the US. However, this benefit is only available to premium subscribers. If you’re using the Free version, you will not be able to bypass geo-restrictions.
With a premium membership, you can also unblock other streaming services, such as HBO Max, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video content. Of course, you need to be a subscriber of these streaming services in order to access their content.
ProtonVPN offers more-than-adequate speeds to stream high-quality video from any of these services. However, it will help if you connect to a server geographically closest to you.
Torrenting with ProtonVPN
Downloading torrents with ProtonVPN is fast and easy. We were able to download a decently-sized file in no time. While downloading, we could surf the web without noticeable delays.
We used one of ProtonVPN’s dedicated P2P servers for this, which is essential for your privacy. If you’re going to download something using ProtonVPN and want to make sure your connection is secure, always use one of these P2P servers. Otherwise, you won’t be protected. Note that dedicated P2P servers are only available to premium users.
ProtonVPN also leverages a Secure Core network, which offers extra security to Plus subscribers. Using a Secure Core server creates a dual VPN tunnel that keeps your connection safe from network-based attacks. With ProtonVPN, your internet traffic gets redirected to different servers before it leaves the ProtonVPN network. In essence, your traffic can never be traced back to you.
This feature is a nice extra and can be especially useful in countries where protecting your online data is even more vital due to spying practices. Think of places like Russia, China, Iran, or members of the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes alliances.
Government surveillance in these regions will not be able to track you if you’re using a Secure Core, because your traffic will be routed through multiple servers in privacy-friendly countries like Switzerland and Iceland. These Secure Core servers are fully owned and operated by Proton.
Secure Core is available for ProtonVPN Plus users. This feature can be switched on and off manually. Additionally, as described under the heading ‘Server network,’ you can choose which Secure Core server you want to send data to, depending on your exit server location.
Tor over VPN
ProtonVPN offers seamless integration with Tor Browser. This means you can route all your internet traffic through the Tor anonymity network and safely access the dark web.
All paid plans of ProtonVPN include access to the NetShield DNS filtering feature. This protects against malware, blocks ads, and prevents website trackers from following you as you browse the net. You can customize it to block only ads, only malware or do nothing at all. If you’re having trouble loading websites, NetShield could be the cause so you might want to turn it off if you trust the site you’re visiting.
Our Experience With ProtonVPN
To sum up our ProtonVPN review: ProtonVPN is a pretty efficient VPN service that offers good privacy options and decent speed for everyday use. Its Secure Core feature ensures that premium users can protect themselves by channeling traffic through a dual VPN tunnel. Moreover, ProtonVPN works for Netflix and for downloading torrents, though the speeds may be a bit slow depending on your location and the server locations you connect to.
It’s fairly easy to install and use, though the wealth of options and settings might overwhelm new users. As for pricing, you get a discount if you opt for a longer subscription, but the prices are slightly higher than other affordable VPNs. The one improvement we would like to see is a quicker way to connect with ProtonVPN support.
All in all, ProtonVPN is definitely a good choice if you’re looking for a VPN that prioritizes security and privacy while being easy to use.
Looking for a quick answer about one of ProtonVPN’s many features? You might find it in our FAQs. Just click one of the questions below to see the answer!
ProtonVPN does offer a free version without any traffic caps. However, it does come with some limitations: only three server locations, medium speed, no support for torrenting or streaming services like Netflix, and only one connection per account. If you need more features, you’ll have to purchase the Proton Plus package. You can check out some other excellent free options on our list of truly free VPNs.
Yes! In fact, ProtonVPN provides you with two fail-safes that can prevent data leaks if your VPN malfunctions for whatever reason. The first one is a “regular” kill switch that blocks internet access when ProtonVPN drops the connection. The second one is called the “permanent kill switch” and it doesn’t let you access the internet at all unless you’re connected to one of ProtonVPN’s servers. You can learn more about this essential feature in our full guide to VPN kill switch technology.
Yes! ProtonVPN supports the strongest protocols, namely OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2. It encrypts your traffic with the AES-256 cipher and supports perfect forward secrecy. All ProtonVPN servers are protected by full-disk encryption and incorporate the so-called “Secure Core” architecture that protects you against network-based attacks. Proton is based in Switzerland, their apps are 100% open-source, and their software underwent numerous security audits. You can learn more about this impressive VPN provider in our full ProtonVPN review.
Yes, you can, but there’s a catch. Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Disney+ won’t work unless you buy ProtonVPN Plus or a higher subscription. This will also increase speeds, open up more server options and give you 10 simultaneous connections.
You can torrent with ProtonVPN Plus or its higher-tiered subscriptions. But you won’t be able to with ProtonVPN’s free version. If you’re looking for a great service for torrenting, check out our list of best VPNs for torrenting.
The free version of ProtonVPN does not support Netflix. However, if you choose ProtonVPN Plus or higher, it will stream Netflix and other services at pretty decent speeds. If you want a VPN that pairs perfectly with the streaming platform, check out our best Netflix VPNs.
VPNOverview expert opinion