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ProtonVPN Free Review

Rebecca Duff
By Rebecca DuffUpdated
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ProtonVPN Free screenshot
Our Score6.9
User Rating
 100% 
(1 User Review)

ProtonVPN Free: Ranked #50 out of 99 VPNs that we tested

  1. Great download speeds: 69Mbps (peak local)
  2. User-friendly custom VPN apps for popular platforms
  3. VPN kill switch and IP leak protection
  4. Unlimited bandwidth - no VPN data cap
  5. Minimal logging policy
  1. Can only access three VPN server locations
  2. P2P not permitted on any VPN servers
  3. Doesn’t work with Netflix or BBC iPlayer

Works with

N/A

Available on

  1. Windows
  2. Mac
  3. Ios
  4. Android

Speed & Reliability

Fast, especially for a free VPN

Speed results from our physical location in London (100Mbps fibre optic connection) to a London test server.

Before using ProtonVPN Free:

  1. DownloadMbps

    95.85

  2. UploadMbps

    97.73

  3. Pingms

    3

When connected to ProtonVPN Free:

  1. DownloadMbps

    69.19

  2. UploadMbps

    46.67

  3. Pingms

    15

Download speed without ProtonVPN Free: 96Mbps

Download speed with ProtonVPN Free: 69Mbps

Our download speed loss when ProtonVPN Free is running: 28%

Ignore when ProtonVPN says on its website that free users will only benefit from ‘low’ speeds – Proton VPN Free is very fast for a free VPN.

ProtonVPN’s free servers produced pretty good speeds internationally as well as locally reaching 41Mbps to the US (from the UK).

While ProtonVPN’s speeds are ideal for streaming and torrenting, these services aren’t supported on the free apps.

Server Locations

Limited to three VPN server locations

Globe with a blue flag3Countries
Image of a city landscape3Cities
Image of a pink marker?IP Addresses

The free version of ProtonVPN only allows you to access three different VPN server locations – Japan, the Netherlands, and the US.

Screenshot of ProtonVPN Free Server in App

While this may not be a problem for users nearby to the free VPN servers, those elsewhere in the world will naturally experience slower speeds when using ProtonVPN Free.

It’s not possible to drill down to city-level VPN servers, but if you upgrade to a premium ProtonVPN subscription you’ll be treated to seven US cities and a total of 29 countries worldwide.

Streaming & Torrenting

Bad choice for streaming and torrenting fans

The free version of ProtonVPN is not designed to provide quick, hassle-free access to popular streaming sites. In fact, ProtonVPN Free simply doesn’t work with Netflix or BBC iPlayer.

As it’s not possible to connect to a VPN server in the UK, you won’t be able to watch BBC iPlayer, and Netflix compatibility is limited to paying users.

Torrenting

ProtonVPN doesn’t support torrenting (P2P) on any of its free VPN servers – this is a feature reserved exclusively for paid subscribers.

Bypassing Censorship

Doesn't work in China

ProtonVPN Free is no good for bypassing censorship in countries that block VPNs, least of all in China.

Not only does ProtonVPN Free operate exclusively on OpenVPN, the protocol that’s easiest for the Great Firewall’s censors to detect and block, free users also don’t have access to the Secure Core servers. Secure Core is designed to provide an additional layer of obfuscation by routing traffic through multiple VPN servers.

Platforms & Devices

Custom VPN apps for main platforms & works with routers

Apps

Windows LogoWindows
Mac LogoMac
iOS LogoiOS
Android LogoAndroid
Linux LogoLinux
Router LogoRouter

ProtonVPN Free currently offers custom VPN apps to download for Microsoft Windows, Apple MacOS, Android, and iOS devices, and there’s a simple manual workaround for Linux users too.

Since the ProtonVPN Free plan only allows you to use the VPN service on one device at a time, installing it at router level could be a huge advantage if you wish to protect multiple devices, including streaming devices like Amazon Fire TV Stick and games consoles.

You can find the full list of compatible models on the support section of ProtonVPN’s website.

Games Consoles & Streaming Devices

AppleTV LogoAppleTV
Amazon Fire TV LogoAmazon Fire TV
Chromecast LogoChromecast
Nintendo LogoNintendo
PlayStation LogoPlayStation
Roku LogoRoku
Xbox LogoXbox

Browser Extensions

ProtonVPN doesn’t provide browser extensions for free or paid users. If you’re looking for a free VPN with browser extensions, check out Windscribe.

Encryption & Security

Free version offers same robust security as premium VPN

Protocol

OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)

Encryption

AES-256

Security

DNS Leak Blocking

IPV6 Leak Blocking

VPN Kill Switch

Advanced features

Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.

Users of ProtonVPN Free benefit from exactly the same level of security as its premium VPN subscribers.

Screenshot of ProtonVPN Free Settings Menu in App

The desktop app runs exclusively on OpenVPN, the most secure VPN protocol, so you can be sure that your personal information will be protected. Encryption is via top cipher AES-256.

The VPN kill switch feature is absolutely essential, as it prevents your true IP address from being exposed in case of an unexpected connection drop.

ProtonVPN Free also protects you against DNS and IPv6 leaks, as confirmed by our independent leak tests.

Unfortunately, there are a handful of features that are limited to paid users, such as ProtonVPN’s Secure Core servers or servers optimized for use with Tor. Nevertheless, it’s by far the most secure (and safe) free provider we’ve seen.

Logging Policy

Almost zero-logs & based in safe jurisdiction

The privacy policy for ProtonVPN Basic, Plus, and Visionary also applies to ProtonVPN Free, which is great, as it’s about as close to zero-logs as you can get without sacrificing VPN server performance.

The only thing ProtonVPN Free collects is the timestamp of your last successful login attempt, and this gets overwritten each time you successfully connect to the VPN.

This information is used to protect user accounts from password brute force attacks, and also to determine that nobody else is using your account.

ProtonVPN’s logs doesn’t contain any identifying information, such as your true IP address or physical location, meaning nothing you do while connected to ProtonVPN Free can be linked back to you.

Jurisdiction

ProtonVPN, a subsidiary of Proton Technologies AG, is based in Geneva, Switzerland, meaning its users are protected by some of the world’s strongest privacy and data protection laws.

In its privacy policy, ProtonVPN does state that it will “disclose the limited user data we possess when requested by a Swiss court” but, as this can’t be linked back to you as an individual, don’t let it worry you too much.

Ease of Use

Easy setup & intuitive custom apps

How to Install & Set Up ProtonVPN Free

ProtonVPN’s free apps are exactly as easy to use as its premium apps, with fewer server locations the only noticeable difference.

Unlike many free VPNs, which come with restrictive data caps, ProtonVPN gives free users unlimited bandwidth.

The VPN app’s main screen displays your new server location and IP address, along with some useful stats such as the server load and estimated upload and download speeds.

The VPN server locations are usually arranged alphabetically, but ProtonVPN has helpfully pushed the three free countries to the top of the list and the premium servers are grayed out.

We’re not used to seeing any sort of configurable options from free VPNs, so it made a refreshing change to be able to configure the VPN kill switch feature, DNS leak protection and toggle between UDP and TCP protocols.

Contextual information can be found next to most of these settings, which will be particularly helpful for VPN newbies.

Customer Support

Plenty of online resources & intermittent live chat support

Live chat Support

ProtonVPN Free’s customer support is far better than that offered by most of our other free providers.

There’s an online support center that will cover basic VPN queries and troubleshooting issues, and there are also step-by-step installation guides for all supported devices, including those that need to be manually configured.

ProtonVPN has a live chat feature but it’s unclear at what times of the day this is available, as sometimes the chat icon is there, but other times it’s inaccessible.

When we were able to get in touch with someone, we received timely, detailed responses that were able to help us solve all of our problems.

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  1.  100% 

    Great VPN for those who put security first

    I've been using ProtonVPN for almost a year now. It's super easy to use and they are adding news servers which increase speed. I wish they had live support but other than that, great service. Btw, this product was built by the same team who built ProtonMail. You can't go wrong with Mr. Robot!

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