Proton VPN 2023
As our lives become increasingly intertwined with the digital world, the need for a reliable and secure VPN service is paramount. Proton VPN, a leading player in the market, has garnered a reputation for its commitment to user privacy and robust security features. In this comprehensive review, we will delve into the various aspects of Proton VPN, providing you with the information you need to determine if it's the right fit for your needs. But first, let us see why we even need a VPN.
According to Cybersecurity Ventures, in 2021, cybersecurity attacks will cost us around $6 trillion. This is more than the GDPs of all the countries, just excluding the US and China. This terrifying data is just one of the reasons to invest in a good VPN.
DDOS attacks, identity thefts, ransomware attacks, social media account hacking, and many more threats circle us when using the Internet, which is basically a big part of our lives.
Even after being so essential, not everyone can spare or invest in a VPN, and thus comes Proton VPN. Proton is a freemium VPN, and while the free version offers limited servers, the premium version will even provide you with advanced features. There is a limit, and the free version is enough for encryption and web surfing.
We at VPNgrades are recognized for our honest and fully verified reviews. From server networks and high-speed performance to compatibility across devices, we will assess Proton VPN's strengths and weaknesses. Our duty is to mention every positive and negative aspect of Proton VPN and then let you decide if the VPN is a good option for you.
For Readers In A Hurry, Here Is My Quick Take:
Proton VPN is no doubt a classic VPN, and when it comes to privacy and anonymity, Proton VPN stands out of the crowd. This is one of the VPNs that is not run by any global company for only profits but by an employee-owned, transparent company with a great user base.
This Swiss-based VPN offers a complete "no logs" policy. It does not collect a single traceable piece of data from its users, which in itself makes it trustworthy. While offering all the major protocols, it also has its own protocol, Stealth, for obfuscation. It also offers many special features like NetShield, a VPN accelerator, Plus servers, etc.
Though customer support is a bit hard to get hands-on with, it is still not impossible. The price point is average, with the monthly plan being as expensive as all the other VPNs. Proton might be the best choice for all privacy seekers.
open-sourced and trustworthy
A wide array of features
Allows torrenting and streaming
Does not support gaming consoles
No smart DNS
No 24-hour live chat
Proton VPN operates an extensive network of 1925 servers across 67 countries. This wide distribution of server locations ensures that users have plenty of options when it comes to connecting to the VPN and spoofing their location. A broader server network also increases the likelihood of finding a server close to the user's physical location, which can help reduce latency and improve connection speeds.
Proton VPN designates some of its high-speed servers as Plus servers, which boast a 10 Gbps capacity. There are over 1610 Plus servers available, designed to deliver exceptional performance and speed for demanding tasks such as streaming, torrenting, and gaming. These Plus servers are clearly marked according to their intended functions, making it easy for users to choose the right server for their needs.
Optimized Server Locations:
Proton VPN's extensive network of servers across 67 countries ensures that users can find a server close to their physical location, which can help minimize latency and improve connection speeds. By strategically placing servers in various regions, Proton VPN can deliver a better experience for users by reducing the distance their data has to travel.
Most of the Proton VPN server network is composed of "bare metal" servers, meaning that all servers are physical machines without the use of virtual servers. This approach provides users with a more reliable and secure connection, as there is no additional layer of virtualization that could potentially introduce vulnerabilities or performance issues.
Proton VPN mostly operates bare metal servers, and while virtual servers are not bad, physical or bare metal servers are always preferable. All the servers are physical except in India, Vietnam, Malta, Cambodia, Egypt, Thailand, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Nigeria.
Secure Core Servers
To enhance user security, Proton VPN employs Secure Core servers, also known as multi-hop servers. These servers add an extra layer of protection by routing user traffic through multiple servers before reaching its final destination. This process makes it more difficult for an attacker to trace the user's IP address or compromise their privacy. Proton VPN currently has 99 Secure Core servers in its network.
Secure Core servers are particularly useful when connecting to countries with restrictive internet regulations or extensive surveillance powers, such as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the USA, and Australia. By routing traffic through additional secure servers, Proton VPN ensures that user privacy remains protected even in the face of potential server seizures or monitoring attempts.
It's important to note that using Secure Core servers can impact connection speeds and performance due to the increased distance the data must travel. However, many users may find this trade-off worthwhile for the enhanced security and privacy these servers provide.
High Speed and Performance
A crucial aspect of any VPN service is its ability to deliver high-speed connections and reliable performance. A slow VPN is never worth the money. Proton VPN has invested in its server infrastructure to ensure that users can enjoy a seamless online experience without compromising their privacy. In this section, we will discuss the factors contributing to Proton VPN's high-speed performance and overall reliability.
Proton VPN may not solely focus on being the fastest, but it is still not behind the fastest VPNs out there.
As mentioned earlier, Proton VPN offers Plus servers. These high-capacity 10 Gbps servers are specifically engineered to provide users with top-tier performance while maintaining a fast connection.
Proton VPN employs load-balancing techniques to distribute user traffic evenly across its server network. This approach helps prevent any single server from becoming overloaded, which could lead to slower speeds and decreased performance. Users can also see the server load while selecting the server and choose the less crowded server for better speed.
There is no bandwidth throttling.
Proton VPN does not impose any bandwidth limits or throttling on its users, which means that you can enjoy a fast and consistent connection without worrying about hitting a data cap. Even if your ISP uses these limitations, Proton VPN will bypass them easily as your data will not travel through the ISP.
Proton VPN also employs a VPN accelerator, a feature that enables a unique set of performance-enhancing technologies that can result in increasing the connection speed by up to 400%.
In our tests, Proton VPN has shown significant improvements over time. From being an average-speed VPN in its early days, it is now one of the fastest VPNs on the market.
In our tests, Proton VPN gave a maximum speed of 730 Mbps on the New York server. Even while connecting to far-situated international servers, Proton VPN gave crazy speed. We were able to achieve 610 Mbps on the Australian server, which is definitely fast, if not the fastest.
One of the primary reasons many people turn to VPNs is to access geo-restricted content on streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video, though not all. Every VPN tries to bypass these platforms, but they do not succeed every time. Streaming platforms and VPNs are in a continuous battle that leaves one of them victorious at the end of the day.
Remember, while talking about streaming, we are talking about Plus or Premium Proton VPN users. The free account rarely bypasses any platform, as it is not meant to do so. They are average, overcrowded servers unable to access streaming platforms. Thus, you will need a premium subscription for these accounts.
Dedicated streaming servers
Proton VPN offers dedicated streaming servers optimized for accessing geo-restricted content on popular platforms. These servers are specifically configured to bypass the stringent geo-blocking measures employed by streaming services, allowing users to enjoy their favorite shows and movies without any buffering or lag. By connecting to one of these specialized servers, users can unlock content from various countries, expanding their entertainment options
Unblocks 11 Netflix regions
As I already mentioned, every VPN tries to bypass all the platforms and claims to do so, but not always does the VPN win. In our tests, we found Proton VPN to be able to bypass nearly 11 Netflix regions, including the USA, UK, Denmark, and France. While it did sometimes connect to other locations too, they were not reliable
Accessed via BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime
I was easily able to stream BBC iPlayer from New York, even though it is only accessible from the UK. This was after connecting to the UK servers, where all of the servers are plus servers for streaming.
We were even able to access Amazon Prime, which is another platform that is difficult to bypass with regular VPNs.
Disney+ and Apple TV are denied access.
Exceptions are everywhere, and these two were the exceptions here. In our previous testing, we were able to bypass Disney+, but this time Disney+ might have tightened its security. The Apple TV is the same as before. Proton VPN might be able to bypass them soon, but in our tests today, they could not.
Torrenting is another popular use case for VPNs, as users want to maintain their privacy and security while sharing files via peer-to-peer (P2P) networks. Proton VPN not only allows P2P transfers but also has special servers for torrenting.
Dedicated P2P servers
Proton VPN offers dedicated P2P servers that are optimized for torrenting activities. These servers are configured to provide the best possible performance for P2P file-sharing while maintaining the highest level of privacy and security. By connecting to one of these specialized servers, users can ensure that their torrenting activities remain anonymous and secure. There is a special sign for P2P servers aside from the server’s name. Any server with these signs is a P2P server or a torrenting server.
Some VPN providers impose bandwidth limitations or throttle connections when engaging in P2P file-sharing, which can significantly impact the speed and performance of torrent downloads. Proton VPN, on the other hand, does not impose any bandwidth restrictions or throttle connections for torrenting activities, ensuring that users can enjoy fast and uninterrupted P2P file-sharing.
Proton VPN's commitment to user privacy and security is evident in its torrenting capabilities. The provider's strict no-logging policy is one of the best privacy policies a VPN can offer to its users.
Data collection and retention
While Proton VPN does not collect any information about user activities, it does collect minimal data necessary for account management and service optimization purposes. This includes email addresses, account usernames, and payment information. However, Proton VPN ensures that this data is securely stored and never shared with third parties without the user's consent.
Independent Audits and Open Source Code
Proton VPN has undergone independent audits to verify its privacy and security claims. These audits serve to validate the provider's no-logging policy and other security measures, giving users confidence in the VPN's ability to protect their data.
In 2022, Securitum audited Proton VPN, and no serious threats were found in the VPN. Besides this, Proton VPN is an open-source VPN with a bug-free program. This means anyone who finds a weakness or bug in their code will be rewarded. This is a great way to encourage more and more testing of their code.
Even in 2019, a Swiss court passed a request to a party and ordered Proton VPN to give out a user’s history. Even after this, Proton VPN could not submit anything as they do not store any activities. This real-world test proved that Proton VPN is reliable and trustworthy.
Jurisdiction plays a significant role in determining the level of privacy and security provided by a VPN service. A company always follows the regulations and laws it has been based upon.
Proton VPN is based in Switzerland, which is known for its strong privacy laws and robust user protection regulations. Switzerland's strict data protection laws make it an ideal location for a VPN provider, astheyt help ensure user data remains private and secure.
Not part of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance
Switzerland is not a member of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance, an intelligence-sharing agreement between various countries that cooperate in surveillance and data-sharing practices. This is a significant advantage for Proton VPN users, as it means the company is not legally obligated to share user data with other countries or intelligence agencies. Consequently, user privacy is better protected, and the risk of government interference is minimized.
This is the main reason I always ask my privacy-concerned readers to avoid using VPNs based in countries like the US and UK, as these VPNs may be interfered with and may sell out your data like HMA VPN did.
Data Retention Laws
Switzerland has data retention laws that require Internet service providers (ISPs) to retain certain types of user data for a specified period of time. However, these laws do not apply to VPN providers, which means that Proton VPN is not required to store user data in compliance with Swiss data retention regulations. So, in other words, VPNs in Switzerland are freer than their ISPs.
Switzerland has Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) with various countries, which enable cross-border cooperation in criminal investigations. While these agreements could potentially expose user data to foreign governments, Proton VPN's strict no-logs policy ensures that there is no data available for Swiss authorities to share, even in the event of an MLAT request.
Proton VPN is a transparent company, which is crucial for building trust with its user base. The company openly shares information about its team, infrastructure, and security measures, demonstrating its commitment to user privacy and security. This level of transparency is rare in the VPN industry and reflects Proton VPN's dedication to protecting user data and maintaining an open and honest relationship with its users.
Another good thing about Proton VPN is its ownership. Proton VPN is a subsidiary of Proton AG and primarily owned by its employees. After the success of Proton Mail, the scientists at CERN decided to come up with more security products, giving birth to Proton VPN.
Protocols and encryption
A VPN's security and performance are heavily influenced by the protocols and encryption methods it employs. Protocols are the set of rules that determine how the data will travel over the connection. Encryptions, on the other hand, are ways the data will be encrypted for security.
Proton VPN supports multiple VPN protocols, giving users the flexibility to choose the one that best suits their needs. The available protocols include Stealth, Wireguard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2/IPSec.
Stealth Protocol: In 2022, Proton VPN released their in-house-designed Stealth protocol, which is one of the best protocols ever. Due to being newer, it might not have been tested much, but this protocol is similar to the obfuscation feature turned into a protocol. This protocol makes the connection seemseems like a regular connection, making it undetectable for firewalls and trackers.
WireGuard is the new hot trend that is gaining popularity for its speed, efficiency, and ease of implementation. Despite having only 4000 lines of code, Wireguard is still the bes- comingprotocol,l offering faster speeds with security.
OpenVPN: A widely used and trusted protocol, OpenVPN is known for its robust security and reliability. After being tested for so many years, OpenVPN can be trusted blindly; however, it is slower than WireGuard. It is an open-source protocol that is continually audited and updated to address potential vulnerabilities. OpenVPN can be configured to use either TCP or UDP, allowing users to optimize their connection for speed or stability.
Proton VPN employs industry-standard encryption methods to ensure the privacy and security of user data. For encryption, it uses AES-256, widely regarded as one of the most secure encryption algorithms available. Governments, militaries, and financial institutions all over the world use AES-256. This level of encryption will take billions of years to brute force, even with the fastest computers today
Proton VPN uses 4096-bit RSA for key exchange, which is considered very secure and makes it extremely difficult for attackers to intercept or decrypt data.
Special and Advanced Features
Proton VPN offers a range of special and advanced features that set it apart from other VPN providers. These features cater to users who require a more customized and secure VPN experience. In this section, we'll discuss some of the key special and advanced features offered by Proton VPN.
As I already mentioned, Proton VPN's Secure Core feature routes user traffic through multiple servers, providing an extra layer of security. This feature is particularly useful for users who want to ensure their data remains protected even if a VPN server is compromised. Secure Core servers are located in privacy-friendly jurisdictions, further safeguarding user data.
NetSheid is Proton VPN's ad and malware blocker. It blocks ads, trackers, and malware domains at the DNS level, enhancing privacy and security while also improving browsing speed. This feature not only protects users from intrusive ads and tracking but also prevents malicious websites from infecting their devices with malware.
Though we always suggest our readers get a well-established anti-virus for extra safety, Also, never use free ad blockers, as they might be malware themselves.
Split tunneling is among the most common features that nearly all VPNs provide, though Proton VPN offers it a bit differently. It gives you two options rather than one. You can either select the apps and IPs you want to exclude from your secure VPN connection, or you can select the apps and IPs you would like to include in your VPN servers. This gives you a wider choice.
Tor over VPN
Tor over VPN is one of the recommended ways to surf the Inter;et, however, it has not remained as safe as it used to. Proton VPN supports Tor over VPN. This enables users to access the Tor network directly through the VPN connection.
This combination provides an additional layer of privacy and anonymity by encrypting user traffic and routing it through the Tor network. Do remember that, more privacy always leads to a slower speed.
The Kill Switch feature is a crucial security component that automatically disconnects users from the internet if the VPN connection is lost. This prevents accidental data leaks and ensures that user privacy remains protected at all times. When the connection is restored, the Internet comes back online.
The VPN accelerator is another unique feature of Proton VPN. It enables a set of unique performance-enhancing technologies that could increase the VPN speed by up to 400%.
Proton VPN is compatible with a wide range of devices and platforms, ensuring that users can enjoy a secure and private internet connection regardless of their device or operating system. Proton VPN currently supports all operating systems, including:
The VPN also has a special extension for Chrome and Firefox browsers
Proton in Windows
Proton VPN offers a user-friendly Windows application that is easy to install and configure. You can download the Proton VPN application from their official site, as the VPN is not available on the Microsoft Store. The installations are easy.
The Windows app provides access to all the advanced features, such as Secure Core, NetShield, and custom DNS settings. While it still doesn’t offer stealth protocol. Users can also choose between different protocols, including WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2/IPSec, depending on their preferences and requirements.
The app is well designed and does not leak any data in our various leak tests and webRTC tests.
Proton in Android
The Proton VPN Android app is available for download from the Google Play Store. After installing, all you need to do is enter your email or username and password. New users can sign up here.
The app offers a sleek and intuitive interface, making it easy for users to connect to their desired VPN server. While the Android app supports the WireGuard protocol, you can also choose between the Stealth and Openprotocolsocol. It includes advanced features such as split tunneling, a kill switch, and NetShield. The Android version also offers a VPN accelerator.
Proton in iOS
Proton VPN's iOS app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store. The app is designed to work seamlessly on iPhones and iPads, with support for both IKEv2/IPSec and WireGuard protocols.
The iOS feature also offers the IKEv2 protocol; however, we suggest using the Smart Selection setting in protocols, which lets the VPN choose the best possible protocol for us.
The iOS application is smooth and runs even better than the Android version.
Proton in macOS
Mac users can download the Proton VPN app from the official website or the Mac App Store. The macOS app is easy to install and offers a clean and user-friendly interface; however, it is not as good as the mobile OS.
Like its counterparts on other platforms, the macOS app supports both WireGuard and IKEv2/IPSec protocols. The features of the other meters, like server load and streaming and torrenting-enabled servers, can be seen easily on Mac too. The app was easy to use and did not lag for even a second.
Proton VPN offers a range of support options to ensure that users receive the assistance they need. Though I would say this is one of the aspects where Proton VPN is not very good, Proton VPN offers limited support, which at times can be dull and useless.
The VPN offers FAQs, email support, live chat (not 24 hours), and community forums, of course.
The FAQs are good, but mostly they never have the information we are looking for. While the community forums of Proton are quite strong and do have a wide variety of topics covered, they are still not equivalent to talking to a support agent.
Email support is one of the most common ways to get help through Proton VPN because live chat is only available between 9 a.m. and 5 a.m. (CEST). This turns into 3 AM to 11 AM in New York or 5 PM to 1 AM in Australia, which is very inconvenient.
Email support, like everything else, is usually slow. While you may not ask quick questions through emails, you can definitely depend on them for major issues that are replied to by professionals.
When choosing a VPN, pricing is often a significant factor for users. Proton VPN offers a range of pricing plans to cater to different users needs and budgets. In this section, we will discuss the various pricing options available for Proton VPN users.
Proton VPN offers four pricing plans:
Proton VPN is one of the few VPN providers that offers a free plan. This plan allows users to access a limited number of servers in three countries: the United States, the Netherlands, and Japan.
While the free plan has certain limitations, such as no access to secure core servers, P2P support, or streaming services, it is still a great option for users who want to try out the VPN without any financial commitment. The free plan provides unlimited data usage and a single connection, which is quite generous compared to other free VPN options on the market.
The Basic plan is priced at $4.99 per month (billed at $119.76) every two years. This plan is the cheapest Proton VPN plan; however, if you are avoiding the long-term commitment, the monthly is $9.99 per month. This is costly, but enough to try the VPN within the refund period.
Proton also offers a yearly plan starting at $5.99 per month or $71.88 annually.
Proton VPN is one of the most trustworthy VPNs out there in the industry. While Proton’s main focus is what all VPfocus i.e., theuld focus i.e. privacy of their,users at all costs.
Proton VPN also offers other tools, like Proton Mail and Calendar. If you are thinking of securing your privacy completely, Proton VPN might be a good option to choose. The same applies if you are getting a VPN with "Privacy and Security" as your primary focus.
However, if you are someone who wants a VPN for other specific uses, you might want to rethink. I suggest Proton VPN for torrenting, but for specific tasks like streaming, options like ExpressVPN would be a better choice.