Updated May 26, 2020

ProtonVPN Review

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ProtonVPN has a proven track record with online privacy and security. But does it have enough features? Read this review and see how it compares.

ProtonVPN
Free VPN with no ads and no speed limits

Overall Score

3.6

Price

4.0

Speed

4.0

Number of Servers

3.0

Countries Served

3.5

Devices per license

3.5
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Free option
  • No logging policy
  • Secure underground servers
  • Fewer servers
  • Only email support

Bottom Line

Switzerland-based VPN service with advanced security features

ProtonVPN is known for its advanced security features. It has a strict no-logs policy and offers P2P and streaming support. Though it doesn't have as many servers, ProtonVPN could be a good choice if you're looking for the utmost privacy.

It also has a free option for basic browsing privacy. However, if you need stronger features, ProtonVPN could get a little expensive.

Read on to learn about ProtonVPN and if it's worth it.

WHAT IS PROTONVPN

To put it simply, a VPN hides your identity online and encrypts your data. No one can see your location or your online activities.

ProtonVPN is the VPN service from the scientists behind ProtonMail (the popular encrypted email service). They created the VPN to protect the privacy of activists and journalists who use ProtonMail. Therefore, it has a strong focus on security.

ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland, which has strict privacy laws and is outside the US and EU jurisdiction. It does not store any user information.

You can get a ProtonVPN account by signing up with an anonymous ProtonMail email account. You don't need to disclose any personal identifying information.

Why use a VPN:

  • Keep your online activities private
  • Keep your passwords, banking credentials, etc. from being hacked
  • Securely browse when you're using public wifi
  • Bypass censorship when traveling in certain foreign countries

PROTONVPN PROS AND CONS

PROS:

  • Strict no logs policy
  • Advanced security features
  • Secure Core servers located in deep underground facilities
  • 7-day free trial
  • Free option available
  • Supports Netflix and other streaming services
  • Supports torrenting and P2P sharing

CONS:

  • Less number of servers
  • Pricing not the cheapest
  • Does not offer dedicated IP addresses
  • Does not work in China
  • No live chat support

ProtonVPN is best for:

  • Advanced users who need additional security
  • Casual browsers looking for a free VPN
  • ProtonMail users who want VPN from the same provider

HOW MUCH PROTONVPN COSTS

ProtonVPN has four different pricing packages, depending on the features you need. There's even a free option if you just need basic security for casual online use.

FREEBASICPLUSVISIONARY
$0€4 per month
(€48 billed yearly)
€8 per month
(€96 billed yearly)
€24 per month
(€288 billed yearly)
3 countriesAll countriesAll countriesAll countries
1 Device2 Devices5 devices10 devices
Medium speedHigh speed (up to 10 Gbit)High speed (up to 10 Gbit)High speed (up to 10 Gbit)
XP2PP2PP2P
XXSecure streamingSecure streaming
XXSecure Core & Tor serversSecure Core & Tor servers
XXXComplimentary ProtonMail
Visionary included

The Free version can only connect to US, Netherlands and Japan. You can connect only one device and your speed is throttled too. But there's no data cap.

The Plus version is the best deal, as you get all the features with fast speeds. However, the yearly pricing may be a little high compared to other VPN providers.

How to cancel ProtonVPN subscription:
ProtonVPN is billed yearly. You can downgrade your account to the ProtonVPN Free version at any time. Refund will be given based on the prorated price.

FREE TRIAL

ProtonVPN offers a 7-day free trial. The trial version is equal to the ProtonVPN Plus plan. So you can try out all the features before committing.

To get your free trial, first sign up for a free ProtonVPN account. Install the VPN software on your computer (or the app if you're using it on mobile). As soon as you make your first connection to a server, your 7-day free trial will automatically start.

After the 7 days, it automatically changes back to the free version. You can upgrade your plan at any time.

ProtonVPN also offers a 30-day money back guarantee. However, it's not a full refund. You'll only be refunded for the remaining days on your subscription. So the earlier you cancel, the more you'll get back.

PROTONVPN FEATURES

© CreditDonkey

Now let's take a closer look ProtonVPN's features.

Security Features

These basic security features are available to all users:

No logs policy
Since ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland, it's not required to keep user activity logs. It does not store any information on the sites you visit, your location, or how long you were logged in.

The only thing ProtonVPN stores is a single timestamp of your account's most recent login. When you log in to a new session, the last timestamp is overwritten.

Automatic kill switch
If your VPN connection randomly drops (which can happen, like if you have unstable internet connection), the Kill Switch feature will automatically block all network traffic. This way, you won't be unknowingly using an unsecured connection.

Forward Secrecy
For every new connection, ProtonVPN generates a new encryption key. The same key is never used for more than one session. That means even if an encryption key gets compromised, your previous sessions can never be decrypted.

DNS leak protection
ProtonVPN does not use any third party DNS provider. They only use servers operated by ProtonVPN. This ensures your DNS queries are never leaked.

Strong protocols
ProtonVPN uses OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec protocols. These are the two most secure and reliable protocols. ProtonVPN does not support PPTP and L2TP/IPSec, which are less secure.

Does ProtonVPN work in China?
Access to ProtonVPN has been blocked in China as of September 2019. ProtonVPN is working on getting around this situation. In the meantime, using a Tor bridge is the best way to access blocked content in China.

Advanced Servers

© CreditDonkey

For more advanced privacy needs, ProtonVPN also offers these server options (for Plus and Visionary subscriptions).

Secure Core Servers
This provides extra security. Instead of just connecting to one VPN server, this routes your traffic through multiple servers. This encrypts the information more than once, making it more secure.

ProtonVPN's Secure Core servers are located in Switzerland, Iceland, and Sweden in super safe facilities. The Switzerland server is located in a bunker 1,000 meter underground.

For example, if you want to connect to a US server, your traffic first routes through one of these Secure Core servers before connecting to the US server. This way, even if someone tracks the US server, they can only follow the traffic back to the Secure Core network, not to you.

Tor over VPN
Some servers support Tor, which allows for completely anonymous communication. When using a Tor server, all your traffic is through the Tor anonymity network. This allows you to access onion sites and the dark web.

P2P File Sharing

Peer to peer (P2P) file-sharing is a popular way of sharing files. Many use it to share free-access data. This includes open-source software, public domain videos, and other large files.

However, the problem with P2P networks is that users who download content from you can see your IP address. In fact, the IP addresses of all users using a P2P network is open and public.

ProtonVPN allows P2P file sharing for all subscriptions except for the Free version. This lets you share your files without revealing your real IP address. You'll have unlimited bandwidth to download as many files as you want.

On the app, you can find servers which have been optimized for P2P. On their site, they also have a guide on how to use ProtonVPN with BitTorrent.

Streaming

© CreditDonkey

ProtonVPN supports streaming for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Now, Sling TV, and others. You'll have to connect to certain servers to access the streaming service you want.

For Netflix, streaming is available on US, UK, Italy, and German servers. Hulu can be accessed on US servers. For a complete list, ProtonVPN has a streaming guide.

Streaming is only available for Plus and Visionary subscriptions.

Router Installation

You can install ProtonVPN on DD-WRT, AsusWRT, and Tomato routers. They offer a detailed guide on how to do this on their site, complete with pictures. You can check it out here.

Installing ProtonVPN directly on your router will give you round-the-clock protection on all your devices. This is a great feature if you want to protect your entire household. All devices connected to the wifi network will get VPN protection.

Even devices like your smart TV, smart speakers, and game consoles can be protected.

DOWNSIDES

ProtonVPN does have a few downsides to be aware of:

Fewer servers
ProtonVPN has 801 servers in 50 countries, which isn't many. For comparison, ExpressVPN has 2,000+ servers in over 90 countries. If you want more server locations and speed, it's better to go with another provider.

Having more servers in more locations allows you to choose where you want to connect to. It also speeds up your connection because more servers = less congestion.

No dedicated IP addresses
ProtonVPN does not offer dedicated IP. When you connect to a VPN server, you share the IP with other users. If you need a dedicated IP, look at NordVPN.

Doesn't work in China
China blocks access to a lot of VPNs, including ProtonVPN. If you regularly go to China for business or personal reasons, it's best to get a VPN provider that's more reliable there, such as ExpressVPN.

Only email support
ProtonVPN doesn't have phone or live chat support. If there's a problem, you have to send a message through their site or reach out on social media.

Their customer service usually replies within 1 day, but you may not be able to get immediate attention.

Hear from an Expert

CreditDonkey asked Dr. Marcus Rogers from Purdue University for his expert opinion on if VPN users can be tracked.

Here's what he had to say:

OTHER VPN PROVIDERS TO CONSIDER

NordVPN
NordVPN is one of the best overall VPNs in terms of security features and price. It offers top notch security features, strict no-log policy, fast speeds, and a lot of servers. It also supports P2P, streaming, and can bypass China restrictions.

The 3-year plan offers amazing value if you're willing to commit that long. If you're looking for a more affordable VPN, NordVPN is hard to beat.

 ProtonVPNNordVPN
 Visit SiteVisit Site
 

ProtonVPN

NordVPN

SPECIAL OFFER
Free VPN with no ads and no speed limits - Learn More

SPECIAL OFFER
3 Year Plan - $3.49/Month - Learn More

 

Benefits and Features

Live Chat Support
No
Yes
Subscription$0/month - Free Plan
€4/month - Basic Plan
€8/month - Plus Plan
€24/month - Visionary Plan
$11.95/month
$6.99/month (12-month subscription)
$4.99/month (24-month subscription)
$3.49/month (36-month subscription)
Payment MethodsCredit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, and cashCredit card, Bitcoin, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, UnionPay
Free Trial
7 day free trial
30-day money back guarantee
Windows
Yes
Yes
iPhone App
Yes
Yes
macOS
Yes
Yes
Android App
Yes
Yes
Linux
Yes
Yes
CancellationLog into your ProtonVPN account and downgrade to the free plan.Credit card users can cancel via their NordVPN account. You can also cancel recurring subscriptions on the Apple store and Google Play.
Jurisdiction
Switzerland
Panama
Number of Servers
801 servers
5200+ servers
Countries Served
50 countries
59 countries
Security Protocols
OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec
PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN (with TCP/UDP)
Encryption
AES-256
AES-256
Works in China
No
Yes
Devices per licenseFree Plan - 1 device
Basic Plan - 2 devices
Plus Plan - 5 devices
Visionary Plan - 10 devices
6 devices
Routers
Yes
Yes
AnonymousNo personal identifying information is required to obtain a ProtonVPN account. You can sign up with an anonymous ProtonMail email account.Allows user to stay anonymous. Accepts payment in Bitcoin and other methods. Registration only requires e-mail address.*
Keep Logs
Strict no logs policy
Keeps no logs, except user's e-mail address, username, and payment data. Bitcoin can be used to keep personal data private.
Allows P2PAvailable on the Basic Plan and upYes. P2P traffic will automatically be rerouted to servers in Canada and the Netherlands.
Money Back Guarantee
30-day money back guarantee
30-day money back guarantee.
 Visit SiteVisit Site

NordVPN: Pricing information from published website as of 06/18/2018

ExpressVPN
If you prefer quality over price, ExpressVPN is the better choice. In terms of server count alone, it beats ProtonVPN by a huge margin. Additionally, ExpressVPN also works with all security protocols, and they have live chat support.

We compare ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN below:

 ProtonVPNExpressVPN
 Visit SiteLearn More
 

ProtonVPN

ExpressVPN

SPECIAL OFFER
Free VPN with no ads and no speed limits - Learn More

SPECIAL OFFER
Get ExpressVPN - Learn More

 

Benefits and Features

Live Chat Support
No
Yes, 24/7
Subscription$0/month - Free Plan
€4/month - Basic Plan
€8/month - Plus Plan
€24/month - Visionary Plan
$12.95/month
$9.99/month (6-month subscription)
$8.32/month (12-month subscription)
Payment MethodsCredit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, and cashCredit card, Paypal, Bitcoin, Paymentwall (UnionPay, giropay, Yandex Money, etc)
Free Trial
7 day free trial
30-day money back guarantee
Windows
Yes
Yes
iPhone App
Yes
Yes
macOS
Yes
Yes
Android App
Yes
Yes
Linux
Yes
Yes
CancellationLog into your ProtonVPN account and downgrade to the free plan.Paypal and credit card users can cancel via their ExpressVPN account. Customers paying with Bitpay will not have their subscription renewed.
Jurisdiction
Switzerland
British Virgin Islands
Number of Servers
801 servers
3000+ servers
Countries Served
50 countries
94 countries
Security Protocols
OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec
OpenVPN (with TCP/UDP), IKEv2, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec
Encryption
AES-256
AES-256
Works in China
No
Yes
Devices per licenseFree Plan - 1 device
Basic Plan - 2 devices
Plus Plan - 5 devices
Visionary Plan - 10 devices
5 devices
Routers
Yes
Yes
AnonymousNo personal identifying information is required to obtain a ProtonVPN account. You can sign up with an anonymous ProtonMail email account.Allows user to stay anonymous. Accepts payment in Bitcoin and other methods. Registration only requires e-mail address.
Keep Logs
Strict no logs policy
Does not store activity or connection logs. Keeps information on apps and app versions activated, dates (not times) connected to VPN service, choice of VPN server location, and total amount of data transferred per day.
Allows P2PAvailable on the Basic Plan and up
Yes
Money Back Guarantee
30-day money back guarantee
30-day money back guarantee.
 Visit SiteLearn More

Get ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN: Pricing information from published website as of 06/18/2018

Private Internet Access (PIA)
PIA is based in the US and is one of the cheapest VPN services around. It also has more servers in more countries compared to ProtonVPN (3,000+ servers in 33 countries). However, ProtonVPN has a lower upfront cost compared to PIA.

 ProtonVPNPIA
 Visit SiteLearn More
 

ProtonVPN

PIA

SPECIAL OFFER
Free VPN with no ads and no speed limits - Learn More

SPECIAL OFFER
Get Started Now - Learn More

 

Benefits and Features

Live Chat Support
No
No
Subscription$0/month - Free Plan
€4/month - Basic Plan
€8/month - Plus Plan
€24/month - Visionary Plan
$6.95/month
$3.33/month (12-month subscription)
$2.91/month (24-month subscription)
Payment MethodsCredit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, and cashRecurrent submissions: Paypal, Credit Card, Amazon, Google Play (through Android app only) and OKPay
Non-recurrent submissions: Bitcoin, Ripple, CashU, iOS In-App purchase (through iOS app only) and Paygarden supported Gift Cards
Users in certain regions can also use PaymentWall compatible payment options (mint, ecoPayz, Neosurf, Ticket Surf, etc.)
Free Trial
7 day free trial
N/A
Windows
Yes
Yes
iPhone App
Yes
Yes
macOS
Yes
Yes
Android App
Yes
Yes
Linux
Yes
Yes
CancellationLog into your ProtonVPN account and downgrade to the free plan.Credit Card, Paypal, Google, and Amazon users can cancel their subscription from their PIA account.
OKPay users will need to login to their OKPay account and cancel from there.
Jurisdiction
Switzerland
United States
Number of Servers
801 servers
3000+ servers
Countries Served
50 countries
30 countries
Security Protocols
OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec
PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN
Encryption
AES-256
AES-256
Works in China
No
Yes, but must connect manually
Devices per licenseFree Plan - 1 device
Basic Plan - 2 devices
Plus Plan - 5 devices
Visionary Plan - 10 devices
5 devices
Routers
Yes
Yes
AnonymousNo personal identifying information is required to obtain a ProtonVPN account. You can sign up with an anonymous ProtonMail email account.Allows user to stay anonymous. Accepts payment in Bitcoin and other methods. Registration only requires e-mail address.*
Keep Logs
Strict no logs policy
Keeps no logs.
Allows P2PAvailable on the Basic Plan and up
Yes
Money Back Guarantee
30-day money back guarantee
7-day money back guarantee.
 Visit SiteLearn More

Get Started Now

PIA: Pricing information from published website as of 06/18/2018

AnchorFree's Hotspot Shield
AnchorFree's Hotspot Shield has a free VPN service for phones and tablets. However, this service comes with ads. Also, those using the free service only have access to the US servers and a 500MB data limit per day. Some content and services are also blocked.

The paid version, Elite VPN, allows you to connect to servers in 24 locations. You'll get unlimited data and can link up to five devices to one account. If you'd like to try it, they offer a 7-day trial period.

BOTTOM LINE

ProtonVPN may not be the best VPN service out there, but it has a few nice perks. It could be a good option for advanced users who need additional security features. The free version is also great to protect casual users.

But it's not the most budget friendly. The average Plus monthly plan costs more than NordVPN's. However, NordVPN has more servers and better features.

On the other hand, if you're looking for an absolute bargain, PIA offers the cheapest service.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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