ProtonVPN Review 2020
ProtonVPN is a really popular VPN service, but is it even worth using in 2020? Does it work with Netflix? Or does it offer decent protection? Find out everything you need to know in this in-depth review.
From the makers of the super-popular ProtonMail, comes ProtonVPN. Headquartered in Switzerland and equipped with a decent network of 630+ servers, ProtonVPN seems to have all the necessary features of a good VPN service. Especially when you consider that it bundles in ProtonMail with its Visionary plan and also offers a totally free version.
However, if you actually spend time testing the service as I did in this PorotonVPN review, you’ll see that it not only has an expensive cost of $4.00/mo, it’s also slow, barely works with torrenting, and only offers OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec protocols for security. In comparison, PureVPN costs only $2.91/mo and offers way more advanced features. After much consideration, ProtonVPN scored a 3.4-star rating in 2020.
My Rating Criteria
Here is a list of 9 factors that I have used to carry out my testing and review of ProtonVPN:
- Jurisdiction – Where is ProtonVPN headquartered?
- Security – Is ProtonVPN safe?
- Leaks – Does ProtonVPN leak IP, DNS & WebRTC?
- Servers – Does ProtonVPN work in China?
- Speed – Is ProtonVPN fast?
- Streaming – Does ProtonVPN work with Netflix?
- Compatibility – Which devices can I use ProtonVPN with?
- Pricing – Is ProtonVPN free?
- Trustworthiness – Is ProtonVPN trustworthy?
Jurisdiction – Where is ProtonVPN headquartered?
ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland, which is not a direct part of the 5 eyes, however, it is still a cooperative member. Although mostly a safe jurisdiction, Switzerland does have to comply with any data sharing intelligence requests. In this scenario, using ProtonVPN can actually be a risky business for your online privacy.
Security – Is ProtonVPN safe?
Well considering that ProtonVPN offers 256-bit military-grade encryption along with 4096-bit RSA key exchange, ProtonVPN is actually safe. If we talk about protocols, ProtonVPN offers OpenVPN along with IKEv2/IPSec protocols. This combination is enough to secure you against pretty much most hacking attempts. Aside from encryption and protocols, let’s go through some of the other features that ProtonVPN comes with.
Now you might be thinking, what is a secure core? Well, it’s basically an additional security feature that ProtonVPN offers. This feature basically works as a double-hop server that routes your traffic through Sweden, Iceland, and Switzerland for added privacy and anonymity.
Since this feature of ProtonVPN scrambles your data through multiple server locations, it would become near impossible for any ISP to track you down. That being said, the secure core feature is only included in their “Plus” or “Visionary” subscription plans.
Does ProtonVPN have a Kill Switch?
As a matter of fact, ProtonVPN does have a built-in Kill Switch feature. This feature works as a safety measure to protect your online identity in case of an abrupt disconnection. Essentially, it prevents your IP address from being exposed to your local ISP. I’ve extensively played around with this feature and found it to work very well.
Tor over VPN
ProtonVPN also offers Tor-over-VPN functionality. In fact, it offers built-in support for Tor. I’ve tested this feature to access Onion sites and didn’t encounter any issues accessing the dark web. However, I wasn’t too impressed by the overall speed.
ProtonMail is a secure emailing app that’s bundled with their premium VPN packages. ProtonMail allows users to send and receive emails via encryption. The servers of ProtonMail are hosted in Switzerland, which is a country know for its privacy-friendly laws. It is a widely used email service and has gained rapid popularity after the recent email leaks scandals.
Logging Policy – Does ProtonVPN Keep Logs?
- Log users’ traffic or the content of any communications
- Discriminate against devices, protocols, or applications
- Throttle your Internet connection
In addition to timestamps, ProtonVPN also logs the following information:
- Email address
- Billing information
Luckily, despite collecting connection logs, ProtonVPN deletes all your data once you unsubscribe or delete your account. It also overwrites all connection timestamps every time users log in.
Leaks – Does ProtonVPN leak IP, DNS & WebRTC?
ProtonVPN offers excellent leak protection. I’ve performed multiple tests and found it to not leak IP, DNS, and WebRTC. For all of my testing, I connected to their Japan server. Here are the test results:
IP Leak Test
As you can see from the screenshot below, my original IP address is not visible anywhere. This is a clear sign that my IP is not leaking.
DNS Leak Test
For the DNS leak test, I again connected to the Japanese server. As you can see, all of my requests are being handled by a Japanese DNS server.
WebRTC Leak Test
Aside from not leaking my IP or DNS information, ProtonVPN also passed my WebRTC leak with zero issues.
Last but not least, I also checked for viruses in the ProtonVPN app. Luckily, I did not find any hidden virus or trojan. Here is the screenshot of the scan result:
Servers – Does ProtonVPN work in China?
Despite offering 630+ servers in 44 countries, ProtonVPN failed to access Chinese blocked content. That’s because it doesn’t offer any actual servers in China. Instead, it only offers servers in Hong Kong.
If we talk about the servers included in the free version, ProtonVPN only offers 3 server locations in the US, Japan, and the Netherlands which is a bit disappointing.
ProtonVPN also offers specialized p2p servers that are good for securely downloading torrents. You can select any of ProtonVPN’s Basic, Plus, and Visionary plans to avail of the P2P functionality.
Does ProtonVPN free allow Torrenting?
Although the paid version offers excellent P2P compatibility, the free version of ProtonVPN doesn’t have support for torrenting. You’ll have to subscribe to one of their paid plans to start using the ProtonVPN torrenting feature.
Speed – Is ProtonVPN fast?
No, ProtonVPN is not by any means fast. While conducting the speed tests for this ProtonVPN review, I was disappointed with the end results. Even if you use the ProtonVPN premium account, you will still encounter significantly slower speeds.
To perform my speed tests, I used my 30 Mbps internet connection. This was my speed before connecting to ProtonVPN:
When I connected to the US server, I noticed almost a 33% speed drop. I only managed to get max 10.18 Mbps downloading speeds.
With the Japanese server, I managed to get slightly better downloading speeds, however, still quite unacceptable for a paid VPN service. I only managed to get 10.32 Mbps downloading speed.
Streaming – Does ProtonVPN work with Netflix?
Unfortunately, ProtonVPN doesn’t work with Netflix. Despite switching servers, I only managed to unblock US Netflix for a very brief period before getting blocked.
Other Streaming Services
As for other streaming services, I actually managed to unblock both BBC iPlayer and Hulu without any issues. However, speed was again a bit of an issue while streaming.
Compatibility – Which devices can I use ProtonVPN with?
When it comes to compatibility, this VPN offers apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android devices. But that’s it. This VPN has no apps for Smart TVs, routers and gaming consoles, meaning you will have to manually set up the VPN on other devices.
The user interface of the ProtonVPN’s Windows app is quite clean. Everything can be conveniently found where it’s supposed to be. I like the fact that its app displays session stats with Up and Down speeds at the bottom of the app.
Similar to the Windows app, its macOS app is also quite well designed. But instead of showing connection stats down at the bottom, the macOS app of ProtonVPN shows all the stats at the top left corner. Overall, it is super easy to use.
The iOS app of ProtonVPN is also pretty well built. I like how easy it is to switch different server locations. In addition, the iOS app also boasts decent customization without any lags or glitches.
Last but not least, I also played around with ProtonVPN’s Android app and found it to be pretty well designed. Compared to its iOS app, the Android app does show a bit more information.
Pricing – Is ProtonVPN free?
Aside from three paid ProtonVPN pricing plans, ProtonVPN also comes with a free plan. In addition, ProtonVPN also offers a free trial that allows you to test premium features for 7-days without requiring credit card details.
- $4/mo (Basic – Yearly Plan) Save $12
- $8/mo (Plus – Yearly Plan) Save $24
- $24/mo (Visionary – Yearly Plan) Save $72
All of these plans except for the free one are year plans. These are named as Basic, Plus, Visionary. All of these plans come with 30-days money-back guarantee. What tells these plans apart is the number of simultaneous connections, ProtonMail subscription, Tor Servers, and a few other features.
As far as payment methods, ProtonVPN only accepts either PayPal or Credit Card / Debit Card. This can be a bit disappointing for folks looking to purchase through Bitcoins.
Trustworthiness – Is ProtonVPN trustworthy?
Judging by the 3.3/5 star ProtonVPN Trustpilot rating, ProtonVPN is pretty trustworthy.
Most people seem to have pretty positive reviews about the service. In fact, 40% of users have rated the service as excellent.
But aside from Trustpilot reviews, let us now see what users have to say about ProtonVPN on Reddit:
ProtonVPN Review Reddit
ProtonVPN mostly has pretty positive reviews on Reddit, especially ever since it announced that its now open source and audited. Here are a few user comments praising ProtonVPN for the bold step forward:
As for customer support, ProtonVPN doesn’t offer a live chat option. The only way you can contact their support team is via Ticketing System or Contact Form. That being said, their customer support team is very knowledgeable and professional.
You can shoot them an email at either [email protected] or [email protected] to solve any issue you might have with the service. In addition to contacting their support team, you can also get quick help through ProtonVPN’s Support Center or FAQs section.
VPN Comparison between PureVPN and ProtonVPN
In case you’re not satisfied with ProtonVPN, here’s a quick comparison between PureVPN and ProtonVPN:
|Servers||2000+ in 140 Countries||632 Servers in 44 Countries|
|Compatibility||All Devices||Windows, macOS, Linux,|
|Logging Policy||Zero Log||Keeps Connection Logs|
|Customer Support||Live Chat & Email Support||Tickets, Email, Twitter|
|Trust Pilot Score||4.8||3.3|
Here are a few alternatives for protonVPN in case you want to try out something different:
Do I Recommend ProtonVPN?
Yes, despite a few flaws, I still recommend you guys give ProtonVPN a try. On the negative side, ProtonVPN lacks live chat support, offers slow speeds, doesn’t work with Netflix or in China.
However, on the plus side, ProtonVPN offers a free version with no bandwidth limits, it doesn’t leak, offers plenty of servers and security features, and works with streaming services like Hulu and BBC iPlayer. Best of all, it doesn’t keep any usage logs, not even in the free version.
If you are interested in checking out other VPNs, check out our unbiased VPN reviews 2020.