ProtonVPN is climbing up our VPN rankings, with some fantastic speed results, strong encryption and minimal logging, and a handful of advanced privacy features.
It also unlocks popular streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, but BBC iPlayer is inaccessible. P2P activity is permitted on many servers if you pay for the Plus or Visionary plans.
It could still do with some improvements in some areas – the most obvious being its small server network and its limited range of custom apps.
Pricing & Deals
ProtonVPN offers a few different service tiers tailored to suit different use cases, each with the option to pay monthly or yearly. Whatever your surfing habits, there will be a combination to suit you.
The Basic plan is the cheapest option at $4 per month on the annual plan, but this limits you to two simultaneous connections, compared to five on the Plus plan.
The Plus plan is $8 a month annually and also comes with ‘secure core’ servers and servers optimized for use with TOR.
The Visionary plan is the most expensive we’ve seen from any provider at a whopping $24 per month, but this includes everything in the other packages plus an extra five simultaneous connections and use of ProtonMail Visionary, which on its own costs $30.
Get 20% off ProtonVPN's 12-month Basic plan
ProtonVPN Pricing & Deals
ProtonVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee which really is ‘no questions asked’ and not subject to any data usage restrictions. Just request a refund by emailing the support team and the money will be back in your account within 30 days.
If you want to test out the service before committing to a paid subscription, ProtonVPN does offer a free plan that you can use for as long as you like. You can read our independent review of ProtonVPN’s free VPN here.
ProtonVPN accepts a fairly limited range of payment options in comparison to other providers. Users can pay with most major credit or debit cards or through PayPal, but that’s it.
There’s no option to pay with cryptocurrencies or via any international methods.
Speed & Reliability
ProtonVPN’s speed test results aren’t the best we’ve seen but are incredibly consistent and more than quick enough for privacy-conscious streamers and torrenters.
Performance is excellent on local connections peaking at 89Mbps up and 73Mbps down. It’s also surprisingly good over longer distances, with downloads reaching 37Mbps on a connection as distant as UK to Japan – still more than fast enough for HD streaming.
Latency is fair at around 4ms on same-country connections, which will do for most, but gamers should note that some top-tier providers come in at under 1ms.
ProtonVPN takes a little longer to connect than we’d like, at around 12 seconds each time, but once you’re up and running, we found performance to be incredibly reliable and stable.
To read about our speed testing methodologies, please read How We Review VPNs.
ProtonVPN’s server network is a pretty small one, with just under 400 servers spread across 32 countries.
Western Europe and North America are well covered, but if you need servers in more far-flung locations it may be best to look into other providers – for example, HideMyAss! offers over 190 countries worldwide.
You can drill down to city level in a handful of countries, including in the US, Canada, and the UK, for optimal performance.
Platforms & Devices
ProtonVPN’s custom apps are limited to Microsoft Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android devices, a far cry from the diverse range offered by the likes of ExpressVPN or Windscribe. There are no apps for streaming devices, nor are there any browser extensions.
It is possible to install it on Linux but this requires you to download the third-party OpenVPN software, which could be a little fiddly for first-time VPN users.
If you’re looking to protect games consoles and streaming devices, the simplest way to do this is to manually configure your router with the VPN – just make sure it’s compatible by looking on ProtonVPN’s support pages.
Once you’re done, all the Internet-connected devices in your home will be protected.
Streaming & Torrenting
ProtonVPN is a good choice if you’re looking for quick, hassle-free access to Netflix and Hulu, but many other popular services aren’t currently supported, including Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer.
There is a handy list on ProtonVPN’s website of the US servers that are currently working with Netflix, but they are restricted to Plus Plan subscribers.
Consistently high upload speeds make ProtonVPN attractive to torrenters, and P2P activity is permitted on many servers for Plus and Visionary subscribers. If you opt for the basic plan, P2P is restricted to just a few servers.
Encryption & Security
ProtonVPN is an excellent choice if you’re serious about online privacy.
The desktop app exclusively uses OpenVPN, the most secure VPN protocol, so you can be certain that your web traffic isn’t being compromised. The mobile apps use IKEv2, which is also very secure. Encryption is via AES-256, a top cipher considered unbreakable.
The VPN kill switch is absolutely essential, as it prevents your true IP address from being leaked should the VPN connection drop for any reason. The same goes for protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks, which our independent leak tests proved to be working effectively.
ProtonVPN also offers a Secure Core setting, which forces your traffic through multiple servers before it leaves the network. These servers operate on ProtonVPN’s own dedicated networks in selected countries with strong privacy laws, meaning you’re even further protected against cyber attacks.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
- DNS Leak Blocking
- First-party DNS
- IPV6 Leak Blocking
- VPN Kill Switch
- Split Tunneling
- TOR via VPN Server
Despite ProtonVPN’s Secure Core servers and servers optimized for use with Tor, it’s still not a reliable choice for those connecting out from China.
Customer service reported that many users located there are struggling to use it. If you need a VPN for use in the country, our roundup for the best China VPNs is a good place to start.
ProtonVPN’s limited server network also rules it out for many other high-censorship countries as connecting over such a long distance will poorly affect performance.
ProtonVPN maintains a sensible minimal logging policy, which doesn’t store any personally identifiable information or log your online activities.
It collects only a single timestamp of your most recent successful login in order to determine that nobody else is using your account. This is overwritten every time you use the service, and crucially, it can’t be traced back to you in any way.
ProtonVPN operates under the jurisdiction of Switzerland, which allows its users to benefit from some of the world’s strongest privacy laws, outside of EU data laws and the 14 Eyes surveillance alliance.
While it will disclose the “limited data” it possesses if faced with a court order, the fact this isn’t personally identifiable means it isn’t something to worry too much about.
Ease of Use
ProtonVPN’s desktop apps are incredibly user-friendly, without skimping on detail.
The main screen displays loads of useful information including stats about server load, upload and download speeds, and your new IP address.
The locations are listed alphabetically, making them really easy to navigate. Servers compatible with Tor are clearly labeled, as are those optimized for P2P and torrenting.
The settings are limited to pretty basic stuff but this is where you can switch on the essential VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection.
The Android and iOS apps are sleek but they still lack in some features when compared to the desktop clients.
Getting ProtonVPN up and running is incredibly easy and the whole process only takes a couple of minutes from start to finish.
Once you’ve chosen your subscription, simply log in to your account on the website and download the appropriate software for your device. Follow the simple installation prompts and then log into the app.
ProtonVPN’s customer support is fairly limited and will only cover the most basic of queries.
The online support center offers a series of FAQs on various general topics, with a handy search feature to look up keywords. There are also detailed set-up guides for devices that need to be manually configured and some simple troubleshooting advice too.
If your questions are left unanswered by the support pages, you’ll have to send an email as there is no live chat option. We found responses to be nowhere near snappy enough, so ProtonVPN will have to up its game if it wants to compete with ultra-customer-focussed top-tier VPNs.
The Bottom Line
- Download speeds of up to 89Mbps on local connections
- Quick, hassle-free access to Netflix
- User-friendly apps. Speedy set-up on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android
- Secure Core network helps users in high-censorship countries
- Minimal logging policy
- Server network is fairly small
- Customer support is limited
- Best features limited to the Plus Plan
ProtonVPN is a great choice for privacy-conscious users that don’t need access to an extensive server network. Speeds are great, access to Netflix is smooth, and security is strong.
The Basic plan is fairly cheap but we’d recommend the more expensive Plus plan as it offers a much better package.
The software is really user-friendly and easy to navigate, but custom apps are only available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android, leaving users to manually configure any other devices.