What makes ProtonVPN special compared to other VPN services? Read our review to find out.
The VPN provider ProtonVPN is one of the easiest to use VPN services available. ProtonsVPN’s main focus lies in protecting the privacy of its customers. For years, ProtonVPN has delivered perhaps the world’s best known encrypted email service. In other words, it is a company that lives and breathes privacy.
ProtonVPN values its customers’ privacy and is not logging or tracking any of its customers’ internet activity and data. Also, the application and one of its features “Secure Core” sends your internet traffic through multiple servers. This is great from a privacy and security point of view. Nevertheless, this sometimes makes the internet connection slow.
The name ProtonVPN makes you think of the world of physics, and in some ways, it’s logical. The founders of Proton met as they worked at the CERN research center.
They founded a Swiss company to develop the world’s most widely used encrypted mail system, called Proton Mail. In many ways, it works just like Gmail, but without anyone or anything reading your emails and storing your information. Proton believes that your information is your business only. And it sounds like a good starting point for a VPN.
The company is based in Switzerland which is a country that has some of the world’s strongest privacy laws. As ProtonVPN is headquartered in Switzerland it also means that it is outside of EU and US jurisdiction. These are just some of the reasons why it is possible to state that ProtonVPN offers one of the most secure VPN services and that ProtonVPN is safe.
Except for the fact that ProtonVPN servers sometimes are slow due to the high security, another disadvantage is that the company has a confusing pricing list. This means that it can be difficult to know what membership and subscriptions to choose. For instance, it is possible to subscribe for free, yet, the features that you in that case get are few. The more you pay, the more generous features are added and unlocked. Overall, the service is anyway more than great, and regardless of what membership you choose, you will receive an excellent VPN service.
As ProtonVPN offers different subscription options, the functions of the service differ depending on what membership you choose. ProtonVPN has one of the best free options available on the market and allows free subscribers to use unlimited amounts of data. Yet, the free subscription has several limitations. By signing up for the free subscription, you can only have three VPN server locations (which is a very low number) and you can solely be connected with one device at a time.
By buying ProtonVPN’s Plus service you can easily take advantage of streaming services all around the world. The VPN service allows you to access, for instance, American Netflix and the British BBC iPlayer.
A clear disadvantage of ProtonVPN is its poor customer service. Big VPN providers, such as ExpressVPN, offer customer service 24/7 and answer your questions within minutes. This is not the case with ProtonVPN. It can take up to 1-2 days until the customer replies to your wonderings and complaints.
Moreover, it should also be noted that the service in comparison to its competitors has fewer servers. The service allows you to access around 850 servers in approximately 50 countries. Concerning this, it should also be said that the servers are not always the fastest. Thus, if you are looking for a VPN with the highest speed, you should probably look for another VPN provider.
Once you choose whether you want the free version or one of the three paid versions of Proton, the software starts downloading. It’s not that big, so it’s a pretty fast process. After logging in, you will see a dark world map and a list of countries on the left.
The list of countries shows where the VPN servers you can connect to are located. The dark map with green triangles is almost full screen. It kind of looks like the work of a Bond supervillain Each triangle on the map shows a country with one or more connectable VPN servers.
So the list and map show the same: server locations. So why use the map at all? Often, the Internet speed you get through a VPN server will be faster, the closer it is to your physical location. If you are in the United States, you will almost always get a quicker connection from connecting to a server in the US instead of a server located somewhere else in the world. We will get back to the need for speed shortly.
The map is useful because it gives a visual impression of the distance between you and the rest of the world. Proton VPN hasn’t marked the country you are in, but you probably know where on the map you are.
Let’s head back to the list of countries for a moment. On the picture above, you might have noticed a small arrow next to each country. It opens a useful feature. When clicked on, the list expands to show each server in that particular country. You can see the load of each server. A smart feature that makes it easy to connect to the servers with most bandwidth left.
As mentioned earlier, privacy is of utmost importance for Proton, and the company has taken many precautions to insure it. Of course, all the data exchanged between you and the VPN server is encrypted so no one can intercept it — an essential reason for having a VPN in the first place.
But Proton takes the data protection even further. Firstly the company is based in Switzerland, which has one of the best privacy laws in the world, meaning no personal information about you or your internet traffic is stored.
Secondly, ProtonVPN has built something into its server network called “Secure Core”. Simply put, its a group of core servers extra secure from cyber-attacks and prying eyes.
The extra security is related to the physical locations of the servers as well as technical safety elements. When you have “Secure Core” enabled, your internet traffic gets routered from a core server to a regular VPN server.
According to ProtonVPN, it protects you and your data in the event of a security breach on one of the regular servers.
If you don’t want to deal with countries, world maps, and server lists, ProtonVPN, fortunately, has a “Quick connect” button that connects to the fastest server.
Why mention something that should be so obvious in a review? Because it’s not obvious at all. Not all VPN providers are able to connect you to the fastest server when using quick connect. Proton did it, every time we tested it.
Quick connect does indeed connect you to the fastest ProtonVPN server, but there is room for speed improvements.
In our speed test, the download speed on Proton’s fastest server was reduced by half compared to download speed without a VPN. In most cases, being connected to a VPN will have a negative speed impact.
However, such a negative impact is disappointing. Many of Proton’s competitors deliver faster speeds.
In ProtonVPN, there are a lot of features you might recognize from other VPN providers.
Among other things you can enable auto-start and auto-connect to the fastest server
The “Kill Switch” stops all internet connection if the connection to the VPN server is lost, and “Split Tunneling” allows you to include or exclude specific programs and websites from being routed through a VPN server.
Proton’s customer service responds quickly to emails. But even a quick response time on mail can seem like forever when you have a problem right at this moment. While many of its competitors offer 24-hour chat with customer support, Proton has chosen not to prioritize it. Not yet, anyway.
It can be a bit difficult to figure out which one of the Proton VPN subscriptions you need. We are pleased that it’s also available in a free version, not requiring credit card information. That’s a big plus.
Please note that “Secure Core” isn’t available in all subscriptions. Compared to many other VPN services, ProtonVPN costs a little more. In return, you get well-documented and robust protection of your privacy.
ProtonVPN is privacy protection worth the money. The shortcomings of Proton VPN are offset by strong privacy protection. If that’s the most important thing to you when choosing a VPN, Proton VPN is worth all the money.