ProtonVPN Review in 2022 – Highly Secure But Has Challenges ?

Table of Contents

How many VPN origin stories include the International Organization for Nuclear Research? Well, only one comes to mind: Proton Technologies AG, the parent company of ProtonVPN, was formed after its founding members met at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). They created ProtonVPN to “better protect activists and journalists around the world.” That’s a cause I can get behind, because journalism is an increasingly dangerous industry. Since its inception, ProtonVPN has grown to over 560 servers in 43 countries. With VPNs, generally the more servers the better, as proximity to a server can affect Internet speed.

ProtonVPN is based in Geneva, Switzerland. Switzerland is known for its strict privacy laws. Although it is not a member of the Five Eyes international surveillance consortium, it works with Five Eyes partner countries to meet law enforcement requirements. On the positive side, Swiss legislation does not require VPNs to log user data, which allows ProtonVPN to maintain a strict no-logging policy.

ProtonVPN has a transparency report on its website that discloses all third-party requests for user data. Their latest transparency report shows that they only received one request approved by Swiss authorities in 2019. And although the company was forced to give out user data, it didn’t because it doesn’t log network traffic. If there is one VPN you can trust with your data, it seems to be ProtonVPN.

Features

ProtonVPN goes all out when it comes to security. For starters, the company is based in Switzerland, which has strict privacy laws and does not share data with US or European regulators. ProtonVPN also has one of the best no-logging policies we’ve seen. The only data that is logged is the time of the last login attempt, which is even overwritten every time you log in.

The most exciting and unique feature of VPN is a feature called Security Core. This basically means that when you connect to a server with ProtonVPN, your connection first goes through some of ProtonVPN’s most secure servers. So even if you log into a malware-infected website, your real IP address and browsing history won’t be shared with cyber attackers.

ProtonVPN also offers a built-in kill switch that protects your IP address in case of a connection failure. There is no option for the VPN to turn on automatically when you connect to a public WiFi network, but you can set ProtonVPN to turn on the connection automatically when you turn on your computer.

Unfortunately, ProtonVPN’s server network is much smaller than that of many other VPNs that charge similar or cheaper prices – the company has just over 870 servers spread across 50 countries. There are relatively few servers in Asia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East, but if you want to connect to Europe or North America, most countries have more than six servers.

Privacy-conscious users will be happy to know, however, that ProtonVPN offers Tor over VPN, which integrates your connection into the anonymous Tor network. With a single click, all data is transferred over the Tor network, giving users an extra layer of privacy when accessing the Onion website. Other than NordVPN, we can’t think of many VPNs that offer this kind of integration.

Finally, ProtonVPN is able to unblock geo-restricted streaming sites like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon, and Disney+, but only for Plus and higher packages. This is a great feature for any VPN, but with providers like Surfshark offering the same features at a cheaper price, Proton can seem expensive if you’re just looking for a streaming VPN – it’s its advanced security that really draws people in.

Server Locations

At the time of writing, Proton VPN has 1,080 servers in 54 countries. You can find the latest information on their servers page. It’s worth noting that some servers may only be available if you have a specific package.

Free users can only connect to servers in Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States. This gives you some coverage, although all options are equally bad for South African users. This is also the only package that doesn’t have P2P servers.

Servers with unique features like Secure Core VPN and TOR over VPN will only be available to Plus and Visionary users.

Speed Test

The server speeds I tested were stable but poor – the US servers I tested barely exceeded the minimum broadband requirements, and the international servers I tested were all quite slow. Note that since ProtonVPN has both free and paid servers (the difference is in speed and capacity), all tests were conducted on paid servers. Also, all tests were performed using AES-256 encryption over UDP.

Location Trial Latency Download Speed Upload Speed

NoVPN

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

30ms

30ms

31ms

98.20 Mbps

98.16 Mbps

98.89 Mbps

31.06 Mbps

31.36 Mbps

30.50 Mbps

USA

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

Average

106ms

108ms

104ms

106ms

20.57 Mbps

20.70 Mbps

20.65 Mbps

20.64 Mbps

1.29 Mbps

1.16 Mbps

1.22 Mbps

1.22 Mbps

UK

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

Average

283ms

294ms

284ms

287ms

5.09 Mbps

7.76 Mbps

7.69 Mbps

6.85 Mbps

6.76 Mbps

4.71 Mbps

6.59 Mbps

6.02 Mbps

Hong Kong

Trial 1

Trial 2

 Trial 3

Average

332ms

342ms

342ms

339ms

3.42 Mbps

6.61 Mbps

6.53 Mbps

5.52 Mbps

3.99 Mbps

3.83 Mbps

3.93 Mbps

3.92 Mbps

Australia

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

Average

469ms

453ms

454ms

459ms

4.63 Mbps

4.61 Mbps

4.66 Mbps

4.63 Mbps

1.64 Mbps

1.73 Mbps

1.76 Mbps

1.71 Mbps

Pricing Plans

Free – ProtonVPN offers free access to servers in three countries – USA, Netherlands and Japan. It can only connect to one device at a time and has slower speeds, but there are no ads or bandwidth restrictions.

Basic – For $4 per month, you can use the VPN on up to two devices and access all ProtonVPN servers. The plan also has faster speeds and allows torrenting.

Plus – This package removes all speed limits, allows use on up to five devices, and allows streaming. For just $8 a month, it manages your internet traffic across multiple servers and routes it through the Tor network.

Visionary – If you’re willing to pay $24 per month, this VPN gives you a ProtonMail Visionary account, which is essentially a secure email storage space so you can encrypt your emails and further protect your data. It also increases the number of devices that can use the service at the same time to 10.

ProtonVPN Plus offers a 7-day free trial when you download the program for the first time. The money-back guarantee is usually 30 days.

Payment Methods

You can create a free or paid account to start using ProtonVPN. If you choose a paid account, you can choose to pay via PayPal or credit card. However, when you upgrade your account, you will have the option to pay.

  • Credit card
  • PayPal
  • Bitcoin
  • Cash

You can pay with an anonymous name and address using a virtual credit card.

Desktop Application

ProtonVPN provides apps for Windows, macOS, and Linux that are all quite contemporary in appearance.

The software also provides a wealth of additional statistics, such as the load on each server, session traffic, upload and download speed, and much more.

You have the choice of selecting a server from a list, like almost every other VPN company does, or from a map. If the servers are clustered closely, however, there will be a lot of scrolling, and the map will freak out and go off-screen.

There’s also a lot of clicking to do in order to find what you’re looking for. And, while ProtonVPN does have some fascinating advanced choices, there aren’t as many of them to make things too difficult.

Mobile Apps

ProtonVPN is available for both Android and iOS.

The applications will provide you with a seamless, quick, and easy experience regardless of the mobile OS you are using. They also include all of the functionality included in the desktop versions, allowing you to use and customize the programs to your specific needs.

Privacy and Security

  • Jurisdiction: Switzerland
  • Encryption: AES-256-GCM, RSA-2096, Perfect Forward Secrecy
  • No leaks found
  • Kill switch, IPv6 and DNS leak protection included

The idea of a VPN whose jurisdiction lies within the legendary neutrality of Switzerland’s borders has immediate appeal.

Switzerland is not a full member of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes or Fourteen Eyes international intelligence agreements. It is not a full EU or EEA member country and is therefore generally exempt from GDPR data retention laws. The Swiss have an international reputation for data protection that goes far beyond their famous banking system, including the fundamental right to protect personal data enshrined in their constitution.

As if that weren’t enough, ProtonVPN has 40 private servers for its multi-hop VPN feature called Secure Core hidden 1,000 meters below the surface in a former military base in Iceland, an underground data center in Sweden and a former military sanctuary in Switzerland. Such a multi-hop feature can skip connections from multiple countries and cover your tracks.

There is one small problem: ProtonVPN’s server park is mostly rented, and Switzerland is no longer the safe haven for data surveillance it once.

Following the outcome of the 2016 referendum, the country’s government now has the right to wiretap private property, tap phone lines and monitor internet traffic in the name of fighting terrorism. It is unclear how much data will be shared with the “five eyes” as part of the expanded surveillance powers. It is worth noting, however, that Switzerland’s international communications surveillance system, Onyx, has been intercepting intelligence information since at least 2000, long before the country’s fight against cybercrime deepened with the exchange of some multinational intelligence links. And the Swiss are far from immune to U.S. intelligence operations within their borders.

This is one of the reasons I don’t like that ProtonVPN logs timestamps of connection sessions (even though they only check your account credentials and the data is anonymized and overwritten in each subsequent session). But that’s also why I like ProtonVPN’s transparency policy: it’s completely open source, publishes regular audits, and includes a built-in VPN path to the Tor server.

Encryption is AES-256 by default, and the app avoids outdated protocols and uses OpenVPN by default. You can use the IKEv2 protocol in the Android app, but Proton has wisely avoided using less secure options like PPTP and L2TP, which some VPNs still offer. It also supports Perfect Forward Secrecy, which means that encryption keys are changed frequently to avoid security risks. The company also offers a useful kill switch feature that prevents network data from leaking outside the secure VPN tunnel if the VPN connection is interrupted.

No IP addresses, DNS or other data leaks that could identify users were detected during our tests. ProtonVPN also offers IPv6 and DNS leak protection. However, the service seems to be blocked for connection in China.

DNS Leak Protection

ProtonVPN does not use third-party servers for DNS requests and uses its own DNS servers to forward users’ DNS requests. All DNS requests are encrypted and traffic is only routed through ProtonVPN’s secure tunnels.

We also believe that a secure DNS server is essential to prevent DNS leaks. Third-party involvement can sometimes complicate things, and it’s not easy to trust these not-so-well-known third parties.

ProtonVPN has an internet kill switch that further increases the security of DNS requests for users. We will talk about the internet kill switch later, so if you want to learn more about it, you can check it out.

Area of Responsibility

Switzerland is generally considered a good place to set up a data protection company, as it has strict data protection laws, is not subject to EU legislation, and is not a member of the US-led “Five Eyes” (or even “Fourteen Eyes”) spy group.

On the other hand, Switzerland has passed shocking new surveillance laws. These require ISPs and telecom providers to keep contact records with detailed metadata for 12 months. It is unclear (because the wording of the law itself is unclear) whether these record-keeping requirements apply to email and virtual private network services.

Proton claims that it has been assured by the Swiss government and its own lawyers that the new law does not apply to VPNs or email services operating in the country, but it cannot provide clear evidence of this in either case.

Support for Tor Over VPN

Tor is a gateway to the underground or deep network of the Internet. The deep web has a dubious reputation, but it is also a communication tool for journalists to protect themselves from government snooping.

The traditional way to access the Tor network is to use a special browser. However, with ProtonVPN you can access. Onion sites on the Deep Web by connecting to a special VPN server.

To enable Tor in your VPN, look for a server with postfix -TOR, such as the one below. Once you are connected to the server, you can access the Deep Web using a standard browser.

VPN Protocol

VPNs use encryption to protect online communications, and there are several different security protocols for this purpose, each with its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of speed, known security vulnerabilities, and stability.

With these factors in mind, ProtonVPN uses two VPN protocols.

  • OpenVPN: For Windows and Linux command-line tools, best suited for users for whom data security is a primary concern.
  • IKEv2/IPSec: For Android, iOS and macOS apps, and is more stable and faster than OpenVPN.

Wireguard is another VPN protocol in development that is supported by ProtonVPN. It offers unique features like maintaining a VPN connection when switching Wi-Fi networks or VPN servers. Some VPN providers offer Wireguard, but it does not yet reach ProtonVPN’s security standards.

VOD and Torrents

Although ProtonVPN is very focused on privacy, that doesn’t mean it neglects other important areas. One such area is securing access to popular video-on-demand services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer. If you have a Plus or Visionary service plan, ProtonVPN can successfully unlock these two, as well as HBO Now, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and more. The site even has a collection of guides to all the streaming services you can access with ProtonVPN.

The provider also offers a P2P-friendly server, so you won’t be prevented from downloading and uploading large files with your favorite torrent client.

Netflix

ProtonVPN is sold primarily on privacy and security, but it also has certain unblocking features.

For example, it can access US YouTube content. It’s relatively simple, but it was able to bypass the more difficult BBC iPlayer protection so we could stream what we wanted.

With the Proton VPN Plus package, we were able to access both UK and US Netflix, although as we’ve already seen, the player sometimes took a long time to play content, occasionally forcing us to try again.

ProtonVPN has also had success with the Disney+ service. We experienced similar performance issues, but these seemed to be related to accessing the website and launching the player; no playback issues occurred after streaming.

The service also allowed us to access Amazon Prime videos, this time without any speed issues.

So there are some odd quirks with ProtonVPN’s unlocking performance, but it still managed to unlock all the services we tried, and that’s the real kicker.

Note, however, that you need at least a ProtonVPN Plus account to achieve this level of performance. A free and basic account is not enough).

Simultaneous Connections

The paid version allows simultaneous connections, from two to ten devices. The basic plan includes two connections, the Plus plan five connections, and the Visionary plan ten connections.

Gaming Experience

Did you know that online gamers are often spied on? The threat to your privacy can be hidden in the design of the game! For example, if you use a webcam or microphone to chat with other players. There are companies that record your data to sell it to advertisers, and others that collect large amounts of data for their own sinister purposes.

No one can be sure that their data is safe on a game provider’s servers: You’ve probably heard stories about hacking attacks and data breaches. Moreover, scammers can steal your identity and damage your reputation in the gaming community.

Another reason to use ProtonVPN for gaming is its server park. Whether you play Counter-Strike or PUBG, you can switch to another server at any time.

Customer Support

Most of the top VPN providers offer live chat support. And since this VPN has a well-known brand, it is natural to expect the best support. However, ProtonVPN does not offer live chat.

You can send an email or open a support ticket and wait for a response. However, it’s not all bad. Their knowledge base is full of tutorials and helpful tips. So if you need help, just visit their website and you can get help with your problem.

However, sometimes problems occur and you need the help of their customer service. For example, what if you have paid your bill but the billing cycle is not updated? You need to contact customer service.

And you have to wait for hours or even a day. But when you get an answer, it is usually correct and solves your problem.

They are also available through social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, but there you will usually be asked to open a ticket for your case – so it may be easier to open a ticket.

Censorship

To verify that the VPN was working in China, we rented a server in Shanghai, China. This allowed us to remotely establish a real connection and test whether the VPN could bypass the Great Firewall.

We found that the free version of ProtonVPN did not work in China and was not good at bypassing censorship in other countries that block VPNs.

The paid version of ProtonVPN doesn’t work in China either, but it includes a dedicated server for the Tor anonymity network.

Tor randomly routes network traffic through a network of servers, which is popular in heavily censored areas. However, these “Tor over VPN” servers are not accessible to free users.

Overall, Tor is not a very effective way to unblock Chinese websites, but we found that it worked more often than Proton-only VPN connections. However, if you need a reliable VPN in China, you’ll have to pay for it – here are our top recommendations.

Since ProtonVPN Free has no obfuscation technology, it’s not a good VPN option for people in other countries with high censorship, like Turkey, Russia, and the UAE.

Third-Party Verification

ProtonVPN has already made a name for itself in the VPN market. To further consolidate its position, the company has now decided to open source its software.

Considering that it exposes a potential weakness of the service, making the software open source and very transparent is a bold move. In other words, anyone can verify how the service works.

In fact, an independent audit by SEC Consulting examined the security of some of ProtonVPN’s applications. Below you can see the results of the audit by device.

  • Android
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • macOS

Such an audit is very helpful in determining the trustworthiness of a VPN. The above audit shows that all ProtonVPN apps have low to medium risk vulnerabilities. So, technically, the provider’s app is safe to use.

How to Cancel ProtonVPN

Nowhere on the ProtonVPN website is there a simple “Cancel” button. Not even the instructions in the support center are clear. If you are not satisfied with the service, here are some suggestions to help you out.

  • Log into your account: You can cancel or change your plan by logging in to the website and making changes from your account dashboard.
  • ProtonVPN will not send this money back to you, but will keep it in your account for future subscriptions.
  • Consider downgrading : Instead of closing your account outright, ProtonVPN encourages members to downgrade from a paid subscription to the free version.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  1. Best free subscription
  2. Flexible, affordable package
  3. Many advanced privacy tools
  4. Strong position to protect customers
  5. Smooth and convenient for customers
Cons
  1. No control of public infrastructure
  2. Fewer servers, fewer locations than most
  3. Lack of WireGuard support

Frequently Asked Questions

Does ProtonVPN work in China?

No, you probably won’t have much luck with ProtonVPN in China.

The provider has tried to grant access to users in the country in the past, but concerns raised by members of the ProtonVPN subnet suggest that this has never been particularly reliable.

Does ProtonVPN have good customer support?

For help with installation, troubleshooting, and more, ProtonVPN offers some general guidelines, tutorials, and FAQs on the support page of its website. It’s not much, but it’s probably enough to help you with common questions.

Unfortunately, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, there’s no live chat feature, so you’ll have to use the contact form. When I tried it, the pop-up told me to expect a response within 1-2 days, which is not ideal if you have an urgent question.

Does ProtonVPN work with Netflix?

If you’re streaming, the big question is whether the VPN service works with Netflix. In recent years, Netflix has started cracking down on the use of this tool, and many VPN services have struggled to allow users to access foreign content.

Who should use ProtonVPN?

ProtonVPN is available through four custom plans and as an add-on to ProtonMail. If your business already uses ProtonMail, ProtonVPN is a no-brainer. However, the lack of a standalone business plan means that using ProtonVPN alone is best for freelancers, sole proprietors, and small businesses.

How much does ProtonVPN cost?

ProtonVPN’s pricing includes a free plan and three paid plans, ranging from $5/month to $33/month for individuals. When used with ProtonMail, there is an additional fee of $10/month per user.

Does ProtonVPN leak?

ProtonVPN offers both client-side DNS leak protection and a private DNS network. This ensures that most DNS leak situations are prevented.

There have been reports that ProtonVPN is vulnerable to the infamous WebRTC leaks. However, my testing so far suggests that this is not the case.

The IPv6 leak is less clear, but ProtonVPN’s claims about IPv6 leaks are unfounded. In the worst case scenario, IPv6 can simply be disabled.

Is ProtonVPN a virus?

No, ProtonVPN is not a virus. ProtonVPN is a virtual private network that encrypts your internet connection and hides your IP address. You can use it to protect your online privacy and share online content from around the world.

Does ProtonVPN sell your data?

No, ProtonVPN does not sell user data. ProtonVPN can offer a free version by limiting the number of servers for free users. The privacy policy clearly states that ProtonVPN does not sell your data, whether you pay for it or not.

Conclusion

ProtonVPN is all about security, which can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, VPN users can safely browse anonymously, and thanks to strong encryption, regionally blocked streaming content can be bypassed.

On the other hand, if users are looking for something that works flawlessly in every country, the lack of rich servers and some odd connection speeds means that it’s not the most reliable VPN out there. For those looking for a fast VPN to use while browsing, ProtonVPN’s free service is the best option, and it can even provide good internet speeds.

That said, ProtonVPN can work on its paid Plus subscription to offer a better and more stable experience. As long as it offers more servers and fixes the weird connection issues, the sky is the limit for ProtonVPN (Internet).

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