As the life we live grows ever-more digitally focused, many aspects of our day-to-day take us online. Because of this, the interest in VPNs is increasing. Virtual private networks such as ProtonVPN exist to add an extra level of security to our connected devices while also allowing more browsing freedom.
In this ProtonVPN review, we delve into how it compares to other leading industry names. What makes it different, and is it worth a download?
In this review…
- ProtonVPN Review Summary
- Speed and Streaming
- User Experience
- ProtonVPN Prices
- Price Comparison
- ProtonVPN Review Conclusion
ProtonVPN Review Summary
Although not amongst the most well-known VPN providers, Proton has been growing in size and popularity. The network, launched in 2017, is still reasonably new, although the sister company, Proton Mail, was established four years earlier. Both platforms work out of Geneva, Switzerland. The country is known for having some of the heftiest privacy laws in the world.
Proton Technologies AG, the umbrella company for both networks, is known for its state-of-the-art privacy and security protocols, which have been poured into the VPN app. Anyone for whom online protection and safety is the primary concerns is bound to find this addition appealing.
What the name is not recognized for is connection speed. Safety is one feature any VPN worth its salt must have, sure, but so is a reliable connection for streaming, downloading, and browsing. If you are primarily interested in downloading a private virtual network for easy streaming on the go, then keep reading for more information about why this may not be the one for you.
Short on time? Here is an overview of ProtonVPN at a glance:
- It works in 55 countries, predominantly across Europe, Asia, and the Americas. South Africa is the only country in Africa to host servers, and there is very few spread across Australia and New Zealand. The two countries with the most servers are the USA and the Netherlands.
- There are apps designed to work on Android, IOS, Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX.
- Proton offers a free service and three different paid services, all with varying inclusions and benefits. Overall, the cost is generally higher than most of the leading VPN networks.
- It is tough to beat this network when it comes to privacy and security.
- Unfortunately, you sometimes have to pay for that privacy with a loss of connection quality.
The number of simultaneous devices you can use depends on the package you sign up for. See below for a guide to ProtonVPN pricing.
Let’s look a bit deeper. The VPN market is saturated and highly competitive, with more providers surfacing year after year. What makes a network right for you may not be the same as the person beside you on the train, which is why we like to break it down for you.
Before settling on a network, consider the most essential aspects of what a VPN should provide: protection, connection, and selection. Keeping your information safe, streaming speeds high, and letting you choose from many server locations are the first three things for which to look. Here is what you need to know in each case about Proton VPN.
Like most VPNs, Proton claims to be unlike any other when it comes to protecting your online security. In this case, however, it could be true. ProtonVPN and Proton Mail were both developed by scientists and engineers from CERN. Cern being the world-famous research center exploring literal rocket science and beyond. If anyone knows a thing or two about privacy protocols, it’s Swiss nuclear scientists and the developers with whom they work.
Every connection through Proton is highly encrypted and uses 100% open-source client extensions and connections. That means the people using the network are part of a huge community of users, and the level of privacy increases because of it.
Additionally, Proton follows a strict no-log policy. A no-log policy means that your information is not stored in a sharable database. Even if a request is made for access to your information, Proton does not provide it to anyone. No-log policies are becoming more common features in VPNs and are features worth having.
To enhance privacy even further, Switzerland is not within the “14 Eyes” bracket. There are 14 countries with a mutual agreement to share the digital information they collect with one another. This agreement bypasses other privacy protocols and is unavoidable if the VPN you use is from a country on the list. Switzerland is not one of them and is famous for its iron-clad privacy laws in general.
It is important to make the distinction between privacy and security in a VPN. Even if your information is kept private, it may not necessarily be secure. With ProtonVPN, it is very much both.
The level of security Proton applies to its network is impressive. Here are some of the key features used:
- Encryption tunnels: All information shared passes through heavily encrypted tunnels so that anyone looking in is unable to see anything of interest.
- Secure Core: This unique feature bounces internet traffic from the server to sever to make it untraceable. Even if a hacker somehow bypassed the security of the Swiss data centers and Proton’s dedicated servers, there would be no way to locate the true original location or IP address connected to the information.
- DNS filtering: Proton uses a program called NetShield. It works as an ad blocker at the same time as deflecting malware and inhibiting any trackers while you browse.
- Forward secrecy: Let’s say someone gets hold of your encrypted information and tries to decipher it later with a leaked key. With a ProtonVPN download, that is impossible. The encryptions are changed regularly: it would be no more than a waste of the hacker’s not-so-valuable time.
The list goes on, but you get the idea! There is no denying that ProtonVPN is the gold standard in security protocols.
Speed and Streaming
A big part of the VPN appeal is to maintain a reliable connection wherever you go. Many providers put this ahead of all else to ensure the best possible browsing experience for their clients. As you may have realized, Proton is all about the safety aspect, and it seems to show.
There is mixed customer feedback about connection speed and strength, but network tests show a pretty negative outlook. In truth, it probably depends on the location, activity, and what security programs are running, but the general consensus is that it is not the best.
Download speeds in the US come out on average around 80-100 Mpbs. Compare that to NordVPN, for example. NordVPN gets average readings across the US of between 250-400 Mbps. That is certainly a gap worth noting.
Most users say it works well enough for normal use, but it can be frustrating when bouncing between servers. You should also bear in mind that streaming support is only offered on the Plus and Secure Core plans. If you do a lot of streaming, this is not the one for you.
Proton has just over 1300 servers across 55 different countries. The USA has the most, with around 240. The best service seems to be in Europe, with 34 countries covered. In Europe, this is not a bad number. In fact, it is one of the best. Surfshark is considered the best European VPN, providing servers in 37 of the continent’s countries.
The user interface is simple enough, and the process of getting connected is easy. The app looks very professional. What seems to be intermittent is customer support. If you have a problem over the weekend, then you are on your own. Reply times are reportedly slow, and users have difficulty getting the answers they want.
Proton is a technology and software-driven company and perhaps needs a little more time to get the customer-focused side of things up to standard.
ProtonVPN has 4 price plans:
- The Free Tier ($0.00 per month)
- Basic Plan ($4.00 per month)
- Plus Plan ($8.00 per month)
- Visionary Plan / Secure Core ($24.00 per month)
What is obvious at a glance is that there is very little point in using the free service. First of all, it provides almost no server locations (only a reduced number in the USA, Holland, and Japan). There are no advanced features, reduced security, and the streaming speed is much lower. If you sign up for this, you are likely to be bombarded with messages and alerts telling you there are no available servers and you need to upgrade.
That takes us to the bottom paid tier, where things open up a little more. Although not all features are supported, you do gain access to ad-blockers and some more torrent support. You can also connect to servers in more countries, although not the full ticket.
Honestly, this is the plan on the same level as other leading VPN subscriptions. The advertised price is similar to other big names. You have full access and support for all regular servers and streaming needs, as well as an increased connection speed.
Secure Core / Visionary Plan
This is an expensive monthly plan. However, it does include an account with Proton Mail- one of the most secure mailing platforms in the world. It also provides you access to 88 additional secure core servers. What that means is the highest level of privacy and some additional connection power.
While the cost seems on par with similar services, the whole idea of Proton is the ultimate security. In reality, the full-level protocols only come with the Secure Core plan, which is expensive. ExpressVPN (widely considered the best service available right now) charges between $8.30 and $12.95 per month for the top-tier package, less than half of what Proton is asking.
Customer Feedback on Pricing
Something worth noting is the number of customer comments relating to confusing billing and pricing. Some users say they were charged a completely different price to what was advertised and given very little information why.
There also seems to be confusion about how long subscriptions last and how to end one, so be wary of this when signing up.
ProtonVPN Pros and Cons
ProtonVPN Review Conclusion
The security savvy and privacy prowess of ProtonVPN is undeniable. If your primary concern is finding the highest level of protection for your data and devices, then look no further. Even the biggest names in the industry cannot compete with the state-of-the-art protocols used with this network.
On the other hand, if you are all about steady streaming and hassle-free downloading wherever you go, this is not the one for you. Instead, opt for a service centered around geo-blockers (the stuff that stops you from watching Netflix and sporting events) and connection speeds. There are plenty of fast servers with sufficient security out there that are more than enough for the average traveler.
If you decide to go for ProtonVPN, make sure you study the package you are buying before committing. Signing up for the wrong deal and having difficulty changing it is a common error. According to previous user reviews, it gets a little complicated.
Overall, this ProtonVPN review found that the VPN holds up pretty well and should probably be rated a little higher on the popularity scale than it is. However, it is not well-rounded enough in its service to compete, at this time, with the leading companies.
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