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ProtonVPN Review

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ProtonVPN is a VPN service that provides high levels of security and anonymity to its clients. Here’s a comprehensive review.

ProtonVPN was a project born at CERN and MIT in 2014, by a group of engineers and developers. Their goal was to improve internet security and privacy.

The idea of the service came from the enthusiasts who created ProtonMail, which is an encrypted email project designed for journalists and other professionals who require a high level of online security and anonymity.

Today, the company’s headquarters are located at Geneva, Switzerland. This is essential because Switzerland does not comply with strict EU laws.

ProtonVPN provides full transparency regarding who stands behind the project. In addition, the company’s founders claim that security and community always come first.

Features

Servers

ProtonVPN utilizes 299 servers, strategically located in 26 countries including Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Japan, the United States, South Africa, Sweden, Poland and other nations.

According to the company, ProtonVPN’s servers provide high bandwidth connections at up to 10 Gbps of speed.

ProtonVPN also has another list of servers that have an extra layer of protection called Secure Core. This service is reserved for premium users.

Encryption

ProtonVPN uses only the OpenVPN encryption protocol, which is currently the best on the market. Not a single server utilizes formerly compromised protocols including PPTP and L2TP/IPSec.

Additionally, ProtonVPN uses Forward Secrecy, which protects users’ traffic and messages from decryption even if the encryption key gets compromised.

Additionally, the company uses 256-bit encryption.

Kill Switch

Kill switch is a feature that protects your internet security and privacy by disconnecting you from the internet and protecting your IP address if your connection with the server gets compromised.

P2P Sharing

ProtonVPN allows P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing. Torrenting enthusiasts do not need to worry about legal concerns due to the high level of protection the service provides.

The company also offers unlimited bandwidth. With ProtonVPN you can enjoy your favorite Netflix and Hulu shows. However, some users claim that the BBC iPlayer is still unavailable.

Performance

According to some users of ProtonVPN’s free services, the software significantly slows down the internet connection speed.

Speed tests do show that the download and upload speed is lower than without VPN service.

However, compared with other free VPN providers, the impact on the speed is not significant. Also, if you opt for a nearby server, the drop will not be too considerable.

When it comes to mobile apps, the service operates without issues. But unfortunately, the latency time of the ProtonVPN (the time it takes for the server to respond) is much longer than with other VPN software providers.

Customer Support

Given the fact that the customer satisfaction is one of the leading policies of the company, it is understandable why it pays so much attention to customer support.

Users can type their question on the company’s website or browse several categories of potential issues. One can also fill in the contact form or send an email to the support team.

However, the latter option is not recommended because email is not always monitored. Unfortunately, there is no live chat which is a significant disadvantage for the company that swears by customer support.

Compatibility

ProtonVPN is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux and Android devices. The app for iOS users has still not been released.

With a Visionary plan, clients can get up to 10 simultaneous connections that can be shared with family members and even friends. The “Basic” plan includes two connections, while the “Plus” plan includes five.

Installation

To install ProtonVPN, first you have to go to the company’s website, scroll down and click on the “GET PROTONVPN” button.

The next step is to select the plan. You can choose Free, Basic, Plus or Visionary.

If you opt for a free plan, you will have to enter your email address and wait to receive a verification code.

When you click the “GET PROTONVPN FREE” button, the next step is to enter your verification code.

When you hit “VALIDATE,” you will be able to download the software.

You will then be redirected to the page where you have to select the version for your operating system. For demonstration purposes, we will opt for Windows.

When the download process is completed, run the installation wizard.

Click “Next” and select the location for the file.

At the end, click install and run. The wizard will do the entire job for you.

You will be presented with a login page of the app where you have to enter your credentials.

To create an account, you will have to choose a username and password.

User Interface

On the homepage of the Windows client, users can find the on/off switch and the list of available servers.

You can also select the Quick Connect option that will connect you to the nearest server. Right above the servers list, you can enable Secure Core.

On the right side of the screen, you can see information about the current session such as up speed, down speed, and up/down volume.

On the top left corner of the window, clients can see three small lines that represent the Option section.

If you click on the About button, you will be presented with information about the current version of the software.

In the Account section, you can see the information regarding your subscription, username and account type. You can also see other subscription plans available.

Within the Options section, users can also select one of the two profiles—fastest and random.

Probably the most important section is Settings. Here, you can enable or disable auto connect, change the profile, turn on the Kill Switch, select the option that will start the app when Windows starts, turn on Early Access, DNS Leak Protection and Notifications.

ProtonVPN also allows you to report the bug and send it directly to the developers.

Unfortunately, the Help button was unresponsive.

In the Options section, you can also logout or exit the app.

Security and Privacy

The fact that ProtonVPN is a Switzerland-based company implies that it does not fall under E.U. or U.S. jurisdiction. As such, users are safe from intrusive surveillance laws. Article 13 of the Swiss Constitution establishes a right to personal privacy and protects against the misuse of personal data.

The software does not keep logs, which is a major plus, along with an extra layer of protection that Secure Core provides, top-notch encryption protocols and Forward Secrecy. ProtonVPN is also equipped with DNS leak protection, which protects DNS queries with an encryption tunnel.

Additionally, the company is located in a former army shelter which provides physical security to ProtonVPN’s headquarters.

All things considered, security and privacy is enough reason why one should opt for this VPN service.

Tor Over VPN

The Tor over VPN option allows users to redirect their traffic to Tor browser which, along with VPN service, provides full anonymity.

Price

The Basic ProtonVPN plan costs $4 per month, and it includes:

  • Access to servers in all countries.
  • Two devices.
  • P2P file sharing.

For $8 a month, clients can get the Plus plan which includes:

  • Access to servers in all countries.
  • Five devices.
  • P2P file sharing.
  • Plus servers.
  • Secure Core.
  • Tor servers.
  • Secure streaming.

The subscription with the most features is Visionary ($24 per month), and it includes:

  • Access to servers in all countries.
  • 10 devices.
  • P2P file sharing.
  • Plus servers.
  • Secure Core.
  • Tor servers.
  • Secure streaming.
  • ProtonMail Visionary.

Users’ Reviews

The factor most users complain about is the speed. If you use the free subscription plan, you can expect it will have an impact on the upload and download speed. Also, the BBC iPlayer will not always work.

The plus side, according to users’ reviews, is top-notch security. Also, the company takes customer feedback very seriously. According to that, the developers tailor the next upgrade and add new features.

Alternatives

ProtonVPN might not be the fastest or most popular VPN service on the market, but security-wise it is located at the top of the list.

However, if you opt for a free subscription plan, be prepared for an occasional hiccup. If you are a professional who wants a product with better performance that will allow you to browse the web without impacting the internet speed, consider some of the alternatives:

Pros and Cons

Pros

Cons

Does not keep logs Speed can be an issue, especially within a free subscription plan
30-day money back guarantee There is no live chat
Free subscription plan
Top-notch security
Tor over VPN
DNS leak protection
Forward Secrecy
Secure Core
Kill switch

 

Conclusion

ProtonVPN is a Switzerland-based company that aims to provide high levels of internet security and anonymity to thousands of users around the globe. One of the company’s mottos is transparency. That means that the service’s users know who stands behind the project.

One of the best features of ProtonVPN is security. The company claims that they do not keep any logs. Also, they provide DNS leak protection, OpenVPN encryption, Tor over VPN, Forward Secrecy and Secure Core, as an additional layer of security. The service is available for Android, Mac, Linux and Windows users.

The overall impression of ProtonVPN is that it is a reliable, easy to use service. However, speed is not one of the best traits. If you want (a free) trustworthy VPN software, then ProtonVPN could be the right fit.

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