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ProtonVPN Review

 100% 
3 user reviews
Screenshot of ProtonVPN Free's Desktop App
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

Ask Simon about ProtonVPN

Our Verdict

8.78.7/10
How is this calculated?

Our overall rating is reached by combining several subcategories. The subcategories are weighted as follows:

  • Logging & Jurisdiction: 30%
  • Speed & Reliability: 25%
  • Security & Features: 20%
  • Streaming: 10%
  • Torrenting: 5%
  • Ease of Use: 5%
  • Support: 5%

See our full methodology in how we review VPNs.

ProtonVPN is a secure VPN service equipped with fast servers and effective security features. The VPN also works with US Netflix. However, ProtonVPN lacks browser extensions and 24/7 live chat support. All in all, we recommend ProtonVPN to privacy and security-conscious users.

Ranked #8 out of 70 VPNs

ProtonVPN Category Ratings

  • 9.59.5/10
  • 8.38.3/10
  • 9.89.8/10
  • 9.89.8/10
  • 9.19.1/10
  • 88.0/10
  • 99.0/10
  • 9.19.1/10
  • 8.68.6/10
  • 7.57.5/10

ProtonVPN Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Open-sourced & independently audited apps
  • Works with US Netflix, Disney+ & BBC iPlayer
  • Secure Core servers provide extra encryption
  • Includes servers optimized for torrenting
  • Quick & easy connections to the Tor network
  • Android .apk file for extra compatibility

Cons

  • Premium plans are expensive
  • Doesn’t work in China
  • Live chat customer support is not 24/7
  • No Smart DNS functionality

ProtonVPN is a VPN service from the company that created the secure email service ProtonMail.

The VPN exists as both a free and premium product. This ProtonVPN review focuses on the paid software, however we have separately reviewed the free version of ProtonVPN, too.

Following our tests, we found that ProtonVPN is an overall good VPN with high levels of security and encryption.

Security highlights include the AES-256 cipher, the OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols, and a Secure Core server network.

Privacy wise, the security company is based in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction, and only retains anonymous server data logs. This makes ProtonVPN well-suited for handling sensitive data and securing public WiFi networks.

Additionally, we also found that ProtonVPN unblocks 10 Netflix libraries at high speed.

However, ProtonVPN lacks certain features we’ve come to expect from high-quality VPN services. The absence of a browser extensions and a Smart DNS tool are all disappointing oversights.

ProtonVPN Key Data

Data CapSpeedLogging PolicyData LeaksJurisdictionServersIP AddressesCountriesUS NetflixTorrentingSimultaneous ConnectionsWorks In ChinaSupportCheapest PriceMoney-Back GuaranteeOfficial Website
PremiumFree
UnlimitedUnlimited
96Mbps95Mbps
Anonymous Server Usage DataAnonymous Server Usage Data
NoNo
Switzerland (Privacy Haven)Switzerland (Privacy Haven)
1,53823
1,538+23+
633
YesNo
PermittedNo
101
NoNo
Email & Online Resources OnlyEmail & Online Resources Only
$4.99/mo over 24 MonthsFree
30 Day Money-Back Guarantee-
ProtonVPN.com

ProtonVPN Keeps Last Connection Timestamp

Logging & Jurisdiction

9.89.8/10
How is this calculated?

We dissect the logging and privacy policies of every VPN. A VPN should never log:

  • Your real IP address
  • Connection timestamps
  • DNS requests

A base of operations outside of 14-Eyes or EU jurisdiction is preferable.

ProtonVPN is one of the best VPNs for keeping your online activity private and anonymous. The VPN doesn’t log any data that can be used to identify you, and its Swiss jurisdiction means it doesn’t have to adhere to any data retention laws.

ProtonVPN claims to have a true no-logs policy, but we found it does log some connection timestamps. However, these logs are minimal and still keep you private and anonymous online.

The VPN logs the specific time of your last successful login attempt, which gets overwritten each time you successfully connect to the VPN.

ProtonVPN logging policy

Excerpt from ProtonVPN’s minimal-logs privacy policy.

ProtonVPN’s support team confirmed this timestamp doesn’t contain identifying information, such as your IP address, and is only recorded in order to “protect user accounts from password guessing attacks.”

The single timestamp is detached from all other identifying characteristics and can’t be used to identify you from your VPN activity.

This was put to the test in January 2019, when a Swiss court approved a request asking for information of a ProtonVPN user. ProtonVPN was unable to provide any user data, as it simply hadn’t stored it.

ProtonVPN is part of a small number of VPN services to have had their logging policies verified by a real-world test.

The only other information ProtonVPN retains is your email address, payment information, and support tickets. This is a common practice among VPN providers, but you can enhance your anonymity by signing up using a private ProtonID and Bitcoin.

All stored profile data is encrypted and stored locally on its servers and is immediately deleted when you terminate your account.

ProtonVPN is Based in Switzerland

ProtonVPN operates under the jurisdiction of Switzerland, which is a good base for a VPN service provider.

Switzerland is a good VPN jurisdiction for these reasons:

  1. Switzerland has strong privacy laws, a history of respecting user privacy, and does not require VPN providers to store data on users.
  2. Switzerland is not part of the EU, allowing it to sidestep all EU data retention laws, like the Data Retention Directive (2006).
  3. Switzerland is not a member of the 14 Eyes alliance or any other intelligence sharing coalition, meaning it does not have a formal structure set up for collecting and sharing surveillance data with other nations.

All of Switzerland’s privacy-hostile laws, like BÜPF and NDG, do not apply to ProtonVPN since the company isn’t considered a “major telecommunication operator” nor a “major internet service provider.”

This means ProtonVPN benefits from all the advantages of its Swiss base, while also not having to abide by the drawbacks.

How Private Is ProtonVPN Compared to Other VPNs?

The table below compares ProtonVPN to five other private VPN services based on jurisdiction, data collection, and logging policy audits.

Several Pricing Plans but Overall Expensive

Price & Value for Money

7.57.5/10
How is this calculated?

Price & Value for Money receives a rating, but is not factored into our Overall Rating. We believe the reader should decide what is or isn’t a reasonable price.

A good rating here isn’t just based on how cheap the VPN is, but for the value it offers overall.

ProtonVPN's monthly subscription is typically priced for a reputable VPN service, but the discounts available on the longer-term plans fall far shorter than those available on other VPNs. We recommend most users avoid the Basic and Visionary tiers, too.

ProtonVPN Subscription Prices

ProtonVPN is unique in that it offers four different pricing tiers. In all, ProtonVPN has a free plan and three paid plans: Basic, Plus, and Visionary.

  1. Monthly

    US$7.49/mo

    Plus Plan: Billed $7.49 for the first month, then $10 every month thereafter
  2. 12 Month(s)

    US$5.99/mo

    Plus Plan: Billed $71.88 for the first 12 months, then $96 every 12 months thereafter
    Save 20%
  3. 2 Year(s)

    US$4.99/mo

    Plus Plan: Billed $119.76 for the first 2 years, then $159 every 2 years thereafter
    Save 33%

Here is a table comparing the features of each ProtonVPN subscription plan:

Free
Basic
Plus
Visionary
Monthly Price
Free
$3.29
$6.63
$24
# of Devices
1
2
10
10
US Netflix
No
No
Yes
Yes
Torrenting Support
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Countries
3
63
63
63
Secure Core
No
No
Yes
Yes
ProtonMail
No
No
No
Yes

From the table, you can see that the ProtonVPN Basic plan excludes too many key features to make it worthwhile over the free tier, and the Visionary plan is only worth it for existing ProtonMail customers.

As a result, we recommend all paying customers opt for the ProtonVPN Plus subscription, primarily because it includes access to the Secure Core server network and unblocks streaming sites.

You can purchase the Plus plan monthly, every year, or every two years. The ProtonVPN monthly package costs $4.99, or you can lower the cost by 20% to $5.99 if you purchase annually. The two-year plan costs $4.99 a month, which is an overall saving of 33%.

Payment & Refund Options

ProtonVPN accepts payment via these methods:

  1. American Express
  2. Bitcoin
  3. Cash
  4. Mastercard
  5. PayPal
  6. Visa

The option to pay via cryptocurrency and physical cash is a nice touch if you don’t want your ProtonVPN account to be linked with any unique payment method. We rarely see these options from any other VPN provider, so its inclusion is notable.

There aren’t any international payment options, like AliPay, if you’re based outside of America or Europe.

ProtonVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee which 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 14 days.

ProtonVPN Is a Fast VPN Service

Speed & Reliability

9.89.8/10
How is this calculated?

Speed ratings are calculated using upload speeds, download speeds, and ping (latency).

We test average speeds regularly using a dedicated 100Mbps connection in London, UK. Local download speed is considered the most important factor.

ProtonVPN's speed performance has improved significantly recently. It's now one of the fastest VPNs on the market, with impressive download speeds across its server network. The VPN's upload speeds aren't quite as quick, but you won't notice this in regular use.

Our speed tests confirm ProtonVPN is a fast VPN. But, it doesn’t match the speeds of the very quickest VPNs, like those we saw in our Hotspot Shield tests.

The ProtonVPN Plus and Visionary plans deliver the fastest speeds. This is mostly due to less-congested 10Gbps servers and better hardware.

Local Speed Test results before using ProtonVPN:

  • Download Speed: 100Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 100Mbps
  • Ping: 1ms

Local Speed Test results with ProtonVPN:

  • Download Speed: 96Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 82Mbps
  • Ping: 13ms

Download speed loss when ProtonVPN is running: 4%

ProtonVPN’s local connection speeds are good, dropping just 4% to 96Mbps. Wherever you’re located, you’ll experience a similar speed drop connecting to a nearby server.

These fast short distance speeds to download files quickly and load web pages instantly.

Long-Distance Speed Test Results

We tested ProtonVPN’s long-distance connection speeds using our same scientific manual speed testing method.

Our results showed that ProtonVPN’s long-distance speeds are impressive, with fast speeds recorded across the majority of locations.

Here are the full results we recorded when connecting to far-away servers from London, UK with a 100Mbps internet connection:

  • USA (New York):
    • Download: 91Mbps (9% slower)
    • Upload: 82Mbps (18% slower)
  • Japan (Tokyo):
    • Download: 75Mbps (25% slower)
    • Upload: 27Mbps (73% slower)
  • Germany (Munich):
    • Download: 95Mbps (5% slower)
    • Upload: 96Mbps (4% slower)
  • South Africa (Johannesburg):
    • Download: 83Mbps (17% slower)
    • Upload: 49Mbps (51% slower)
  • Australia (Melbourne):
    • Download: 65Mbps (35% slower)
    • Upload: 23Mbps (77% slower)

ProtonVPN used to be a slow VPN service, but its long-distance speeds are now consistently fast. As you can see from our results, the VPN impressively maintained download speed losses below 35% across every location.

EXPERT ADVICE:

To get the fastest speeds, make sure that ‘VPN Accelerator’ is enabled in the app’s settings. It can be found in the Connection tab.

ProtonVPN’s Speeds Versus Other Popular VPNs

To ensure our speed test results are as accurate as possible, we also run a series of automated tests on 18 VPN services. That way, you can see live information on how fast ProtonVPN is compared to the best VPNs on the market.

These automated tests run four times a day on infrastructure owned by us, and we report the results directly from the data. This reduces any risk of biased or misleading information.

The graph below shows the latest results from our New York server when connecting to a server nearby:

Provider speed comparison chart

Our Speed Test Tool compares ProtonVPN’s speeds across various cities

The results from our speed test tool closely match our manual test findings. ProtonVPN is a quick VPN, but it’s certainly not the fastest we’ve tested.

The graph above shows how ProtonVPN is matching PIA VPN’s speeds, however it still lags behind NordVPN, Mullvad, and ExpressVPN’s speeds.

ProtonVPN Streams US Netflix

Streaming

9.59.5/10
How is this calculated?

Streaming is rated by the number of different services unlocked, how many regional libraries are viewable, and how consistently the VPN can access them.

Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, DAZN, and Amazon Prime Video are all tested on a weekly basis.

ProtonVPN has recently improved its streaming performance. It now works with Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, and Prime Video. The VPN's fast speeds mean you'll be able to watch in HD without any buffering, too.

ProtonVPN’s streaming ability depends on the plan you subscribe to. While its free and ‘Basic’ servers are blocked by Netflix, ProtonVPN work with US Netflix on its Plus servers.

Streaming US Netflix with ProtonVPN

We unblocked US Netflix using ProtonVPN’s Plus servers.

Although ProtonVPN claims it works with Netflix “in almost every country,” our tests reveal it unblocks 10 regions.

ProtonVPN Unblocks All Popular Streaming Services

Not only is ProtonVPN a great Netflix VPN, it also unblocks Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video.

In the screenshot below, you can see us testing ProtonVPN with BBC iPlayer.

Using ProtonVPN to unblock BBC iPlayer

ProtonVPN worked with BBC iPlayer every time we tested it.

Below is a list of ProtonVPN’s servers we tested that successfully unblock popular streaming services:

Streaming Service Server IDs
Amazon Prime Video US-FL#36, US-CO#11, US-AZ#2
BBC iPlayer UK#35, UK#11, UK#39
Disney+ US-TX#18, US-WA#10, US-CA#19
Hulu US-FL#13, US-IL#40, US-IL#42
US Netflix US-NY#11, US-CA#14, US-GA#20

ProtonVPN Is Good for Torrenting

Torrenting

8.38.3/10
How is this calculated?

We calculate the average download bitrate of every VPN using a bespoke torrenting setup.

Testing also factors in the percentage of servers which permit P2P, plus useful features like port forwarding.

ProtonVPN is a good choice for private torrenting, but it is certainly not the best. The VPN comes with an impressive privacy policy and strong security features but is let down by its slow upload speeds and small P2P server network.

Our P2P tests found that torrenting with ProtonVPN is private and secure.

The VPN service provides dedicated servers for P2P file-sharing and a suite of security features including an internet kill switch.

Using ProtonVPN to safely download a torrent file

ProtonVPN hid our P2P activity from our ISP.

All ProtonVPN’s server locations allow torrenting through P2P VPN redirect, although there are also high-performance servers specifically optimized for torrenting.

ProtonVPN torrenting

ProtonVPN includes servers optimized for P2P activity.

The problem is ProtonVPN’s torrenting servers are located in only twelve countries: eight in Europe, two in North America, and two in Asia

Despite this limitation, ProtonVPN delivered very fast P2P speeds in our VPN torrent tests.

That said, we don’t consider ProtonVPN to be one of the very best VPNs for torrenting. This is mainly due to the VPN service’s timestamp collection, and because it doesn’t support port forwarding.

A Port Forwarding setting, like the one we reviewed in PIA VPN’s apps, is essential for much faster file uploads.

ProtonVPN Is Highly Secure and Open Source

Security & Features

99.0/10
How is this calculated?

Top-rated VPNs offer OpenVPN or WireGuard protocols, AES-256 encryption, and a functional kill switch. We also consider additional security features and the global spread of VPN servers.

ProtonVPN is one of the most secure VPNs available. It uses best-in-class protocols and encryption ciphers and it easily passed all of our leak tests. ProtonVPN can be trusted to mask your true IP address and encrypt your data.

Protocols
  1. IKEv2/IPSec
  2. OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
  3. WireGuard
Encryption
  1. AES-256
Security
  1. DNS Leak Blocking
  2. First-party DNS
  3. IPv6 Leak Blocking
  4. VPN Kill Switch
Advanced features
  1. Ad Blocker
  2. Split Tunneling
  3. Tor over VPN Server

ProtonVPN is one of only a few VPNs to have open-sourced its apps and published a third-party security audit.

The VPN’s Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS apps are all open source. The source code is freely available to view on Github and all vulnerabilities discovered so far have been fixed.

The benefit of open source apps is that anyone can view and contribute to their development. This improves the app’s security due to the error checking of a larger community.

This represents a level of transparency and commitment to security we rarely see from other VPN providers — we love that ProtonVPN has made the effort to do this.

ProtonVPN’s Highly Encrypted Connections

As part of our security tests, we inspected ProtonVPN’s connection logs to assess the level of encryption. We were impressed with what we saw.

Here are ProtonVPN’s encryption specifications:

  • Traffic is securely encrypted using the AES-256 cipher.
  • Connections established via an RSA-2048 handshake.
  • Perfect Forward Secrecy via an ECDH key exchange.
  • Authentication is provided using an SHA-384 hash.
ProtonVPN's AES-256 encryption

ProtonVPN uses the most secure encryption protocols and ciphers.

Our tests confirm ProtonVPN’s encryption exceeds the security needs of most users. The VPN’s encryption will protect and hide your data from any potential snooper or attacker.

ProtonVPN’s Advanced Security Settings

ProtonVPN’s applications include many advanced security and privacy settings. Below we listed the most important app features:

Kill Switch

A VPN kill switch is a key security feature. Without one, you risk exposing your IP address to snoopers if your VPN connection suddenly disconnects.

ProtonVPN includes a kill switch on its Windows and Mac apps. It’s not enabled by default, so make sure you turn it on in the ‘Connection’ tab within the Preferences menu.

We put ProtonVPN’s kill switch to test by running a series of manual IP and DNS leak tests, while disconnecting the VPN connection. In all cases, the kill switch worked perfectly and did not expose our true IP address.

ProtonVPN's kill switch

ProtonVPN’s kill switch.

Disappointingly, ProtonVPN’s Android and iOS apps do not have a kill switch. As explain later in the review, the ‘Always-on’ setting is not an adequate substitute, sadly.

Split Tunneling

With split tunneling, your VPN creates a separate tunnel that goes directly through your ISP, just like you weren’t using a VPN at all.

This feature is particularly useful for retaining compatibility with devices and services that require a local IP address, like a wireless printer, for example.

ProtonVPN includes split tunneling on its Windows and Android app, but it isn’t included on macOS or iOS. To use it, simply toggle on the apps that you want to be excluded from the encrypted VPN tunnel.

ProtonVPN's split tunneling setting interface

ProtonVPN’s split tunneling setting interface.

We tested split tunneling from the UK and were able to watch BBC iPlayer and access devices on our local network, all while using a Netherlands VPN server to safely download a torrent file.

EXPERT ADVICE: All apps you exclude from the VPN tunnel will use your true IP address exposed. Never use this setting for sensitive activities, like using free public WiFi.

ProtonVPN’s IP and DNS Leak Test Results

Before trusting a VPN with your sensitive data, conducting a real-world IP and DNS leak test is a good way to verify the VPN is working properly.

All ProtonVPN’s apps include IPv6 and DNS leak protection, but we needed to verify these tools actually work. We ran these tests using ProtonVPN on both macOS and Android.

To test for any IP address leaks, we used ipleak.net. We connected to several ProtonVPN servers, including the US, South Africa, Germany, and Australia. ProtonVPN didn’t leak our true IP address on any server.

ProtonVPN didn't leak our IP address in our tests

ProtonVPN didn’t leak our IP address in our tests.

We then used dnsleaktest.com to test ProtonVPN for any DNS leaks. DNS leaks occur when your browser routes DNS requests through your ISP instead of the VPN, but we experienced no DNS leaks with ProtonVPN.

This is no surprise, as ProtonVPN operates its own DNS servers, and therefore directly handles your DNS requests. This removes the risk of leaks from third-parties.

ProtonVPN didn't suffer DNS leaks in our tests

ProtonVPN didn’t suffer DNS leaks in our tests.

NetShield Is a Poor Ad Blocker

ProtonVPN Plus and Visionary subscribers have access to NetShield, the company’s ad, malware, and tracker blocker. You can enable this by clicking on the shield icon from the app home screen.

We found NetShield stops malware and trackers effectively, but it was very poor at blocking ads.

Unlike other ad blockers, NetShield doesn’t fully prevent advertising elements from showing on web pages. Instead, it replaces them with a grey box, which is an eyesore.

On top of this, NetShield only works when you’re connected to a ProtonVPN server. Therefore, you’ll have to stay constantly connected to ProtonVPN to stop ads from showing.

Large Server Network Spanning 63 Countries

Server Locations

9.19.1/10
How is this calculated?

The global spread and coverage of the VPN server network is the most important factor here.

We also consider the number of city-level servers, plus how many IP addresses are maintained.

This rating does not directly contribute to the Overall Rating, but instead makes up a portion of the Security & Features rating.

ProtonVPN operates a wide range of server locations with a total of 1,538 servers in 63 countries. This is a good spread of servers, even when compared to top VPNs, like ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access.

Globe with a blue flag
63 Countries
Image of a city landscape
76 Cities
Image of a pink marker
1,538+IP Address

Most of ProtonVPN’s servers are physical bare-metal servers and are physically located in their listed country. The only exceptions are the virtual servers in the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Egypt, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, and Thailand.

In other words, most of ProtonVPN’s server network runs locally and barely uses virtualization software. We prefer this approach, as it improves the security of the VPN service.

That said, ProtonVPN rents the vast majority of its VPN servers from third-party data centers. We prefer VPN services to own most of their servers, as it reduces the possibility of server compromise or interference by bad actors.

A ProtonVPN representative told us the company has taken extra steps to ensure its rented servers are secure and do not log any information. ProtonVPN has always advocated for user privacy and security, so we trust them on this.

ProtonVPN does own a small number of its servers, too. These are part of its ‘Secure Core’ network.

ProtonVPN Offers Good Server Coverage

ProtonVPN’s servers cover every continent relatively well. Servers are located in popular countries like the UK, US, and Australia, as well as locations in other continents.

Server locations list in the ProtonVPN app

Server locations list in the ProtonVPN app.

ProtonVPN also lets you connect to city-level servers in the following locations:

  • Canada (3)
  • UK (3)
  • USA (12)

ProtonVPN also displays server loads based on how many users are connected to that server and how intensive their activity is. This display lets you pick less congested and therefore faster servers.

ProtonVPN’s Secure Core Servers

40 of ProtonVPN’s servers are owned by the VPN provider and make up its ‘Secure Core‘ network.

Enabling this feature, only available on ‘Plus’ and ‘Visionary’ plans, bounces traffic via a Secure Core server before relaying it onto a website or application.

This feature is an example of Double VPN, also known as Multi-Hop. Double VPN typically routes your traffic through two VPN servers instead of one, increasing your security.

Moreover, because ProtonVPN owns and has sole access to these servers, Secure Core is even more secure similar solutions like NordVPN’s and Surfshark’s Double VPN.

But, Secure Core VPN servers are only located in three locations: Switzerland, Iceland, and Sweden. These locations are purposely selected in light of the countries’ strong privacy laws.

ProtonVPN's Secure Core connection toggle in the ProtonVPN app

ProtonVPN’s Secure Core connection toggle in the ProtonVPN app.

The drawback of using Secure Core servers is that they noticeably slow down your internet speed.

Below are the download speed reductions connecting from the UK to UK and US normal servers compared to secure server connections:

Normal Server:

  • UK: 96Mbps (4% loss)
  • US: 91Mbps (9% loss)

Secure Core Server:

  • UK: 30Mbps (70% loss)
  • US: 18Mbps (82% loss)

Download speeds are much slower using the Secure Core network given the increased encryption and distance the connection travels.

ProtonVPN Doesn't Bypass Internet Filters in China

Bypassing Censorship

88.0/10
How is this calculated?

Our remote-access server in Shanghai, China routinely tests if a VPN can beat restrictions and access a free, open internet. Obfuscation technologies and nearby servers are also a contributing factor.

This rating does not directly contribute to the Overall Rating, but instead makes up a portion of the Security & Features rating.

We found that ProtonVPN doesn't work in China. ProtonVPN doesn't use proprietary obfuscation technology, nor does it route traffic through proxies. Its Tor-over-VPN solution is sometimes effective, though.

ProtonVPN doesn’t work in China. Over months of testing on our Shanghai test server, we have not been able to unblock websites from China once.

This isn’t a surprise, considering many VPNs struggle to work in highly-censored countries. However, a handful of VPNs still work in China, with impressive results.

Occasionally, ProtonVPN’s ‘TOR via VPN Server’ advanced feature works in China. However, using Tor over VPN is very slow and we don’t recommend it as a regular solution.

ProtonVPN is Compatible with Many Devices and Platforms

Platforms & Devices

How is this rated?

A quality VPN should maintain functional, fully-featured applications and extensions for as many platforms and devices as possible.

This does not directly contribute to the Overall Rating, but instead makes up a portion of the Ease of Use rating.

ProtonVPN has apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. A fully-featured app with a user interface is also available for Linux. You can use ProtonVPN on up to three devices on the Basic plan, five on the Plus plan, and ten if you subscribe to the Visionary plan.

Apps

  1. Windows
  2. Mac
  3. iOS
  4. Android
  5. Linux
  6. Router

ProtonVPN for PC

As we’ve come to expect, the Windows VPN client is the most complete.

ProtonVPN's server list on Windows

ProtonVPN’s server list on Windows.

The app for PCs includes all ProtonVPN’s advanced features, including a VPN kill switch, split tunneling, and ‘alternative routing’ — a feature that bypasses some blocked websites by routing connections to different ProtonVPN servers.

ProtonVPN for Mac

The macOS client recently added support for OpenVPN, WireGuard, and alternative network routing, which is a big improvement over previous versions. However, it does not support split tunneling.

ProtonVPN's app for Mac

ProtonVPN’s app for Mac.

ProtonVPN for Android

The Android app is the best of ProtonVPN’s mobile apps and it retains most of the same features as the Windows version. However, it does not include a VPN kill switch.

ProtonVPN's Android application

ProtonVPN’s Android application.

The Android VPN app does include an ‘Always-on’ feature, which automatically re-establishes a VPN connection in the event of a drop. In our tests, this initiated too late and failed to protect our IP address.

ProtonVPN for iOS

In contrast, the iOS app is very limited and does not include split tunneling, a kill switch, or alternative network routing. ‘Always-on’ is present, though.

ProtonVPN's app for iOS and iPadOS

ProtonVPN’s app for iOS and iPadOS.

ProtonVPN for Linux

ProtonVPN has developed native VPN software for Linux, with a full graphical user interface (GUI). This is rare among VPN services, and worthy of praise.

The ProtonVPN app on Linux

ProtonVPN’s Linux app has a graphical user interface.

You can see the full summary of the differences between ProtonVPN’s apps in the table below:

Games Consoles & Streaming Devices

  1. Amazon Fire TV
  2. Android TV
  3. Chromecast

ProtonVPN doesn’t have a Smart DNS feature for unblocking video content on devices like Apple TV or PlayStation.

The only workaround is to install ProtonVPN on your home router, but it’s unlikely your router is supported. The full list of compatible router models is available on the support section of ProtonVPN’s website.

Alternatively, you can buy a router pre-flashed with ProtonVPN. This removes the difficult set-up process but is expensive.

ProtonVPN’s Android TV App

ProtonVPN comes with apps for Android TV and Chromecast with Google TV.

ProtonVPN's app for Android TV

ProtonVPN’s TV app is attractive and easy-to-use.

We found the app easy to use and intuitively laid out, so you won’t have a problem using it.

ProtonVPN’s App for Fire TV Stick

ProtonVPN’s Fire TV app can be installed from the Amazon Appstore. In our tests, it worked with US Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and more.

ProtonVPN Fire TV app

ProtonVPN’s app on our test Firestick.

The app uses WireGuard and AES-256 encryption. Sadly, it doesn’t include a kill switch.

Functional Apps with Useful Advanced Features

Ease of Use

9.19.1/10
How is this calculated?

This rating mainly consists of the intuitiveness of setup and everyday use.

Device or platform compatibility and customization options are also a factor.

ProtonVPN’s apps prioritize functionality over usability. Though it's simple to connect and disconnect to a nearby VPN server, we would like the app to be better looking and for features to be explained better.

How to Connect to a Server with ProtonVPN

  1. Connecting to a server with ProtonVPN on desktop

  2. Connecting to a server with ProtonVPN on mobile

How to Change Settings in ProtonVPN

  1. Changing settings with ProtonVPN on desktop

  2. Changing settings with ProtonVPN on desktop

ProtonVPN’s apps are dominated by a large world map from which you can browse all of ProtonVPN’s server locations and connect to the one you want. If you don’t like map interfaces (we don’t, particularly) then you can collapse the app down to a skinny window that’s similar to a mobile app.

ProtonVPN app interface

The ProtonVPN app can be collapsed down to a discreet window.

Although the app is quite simple, it’s sometimes difficult to understand what the labels mean if you’re inexperienced.

For instance, dedicated torrenting servers are not situated in a discrete section of the app and you can’t search specifically for them, forcing you to locate them yourself. They’re not clearly labeled either, with an ambiguous two arrow icon the only indication of their functionality.

Profiles Feature Is Useful & Convenient

The most unique aspect of ProtonVPN’s apps is its ‘Profiles’ feature. From many combinations, Profiles allows you to create a unique VPN connection to exactly suit your needs. The feature allows you to choose from the type of server, the server location, and whether you want to connect to a specific server. You can even name and color your profile, too.

For example, if you know there is a specific server that always works with US Netflix, Profiles allows you to create a shortcut to that specific server that will remain pinned to the top of the app. This is an advanced feature that’s meant for power users, but it’s one of ProtonVPN’s very best features.

ProtonVPN profiles interface

The Profiles feature allows you to quickly connect to specific servers.

Other than that, the ProtonVPN functions like most other VPN apps. There’s a large button to quickly connect to the fastest server, and the app also shows you information about your current session. You can see your new IP address, the amount of data transmitted during your session, and live information about server load.

Live Chat Support Available but Not 24/7

Customer Support

8.68.6/10
How is this calculated?

This rating is based on our assessment of each VPN’s:

  • Email support
  • Live chat support
  • Online resources

Not every VPN offers all of these, and they often vary in quality and response time.

ProtonVPN’s customer support options fall below what you should expect from an expensive VPN service. Although its customer service team is knowledgeable, the absence of a 24/7 live chat option is disappointing.

Email support via an online formYes
Online ResourcesYes

ProtonVPN recently introduced live chat customer support for all paying subscribers. However, the service needs improvement.

Firstly, the live chat feature is not straightforward to find. To use it, you have to log into your account on the VPN’s website. Then, click your name at the top right, select ‘Get help’, and click ‘Chat with us’.

Secondly, unlike other top VPNs, ProtonVPN’s live chat is not available 24/7. It operates between 9 AM to 5 PM (CEST), which is a poor time for most of the world. For instance, if you live in New York, you can only use this feature between 3 am and 11 am.

If you require assistance outside of these times, you can either use the service’s online guides and FAQs, or contact the customer service team via email.

ProtonVPN's email support contact form

We tested ProtonVPN’s email support, which was very slow.

Email support is very slow, sadly. At times, we waited over three days for a response. Time-sensitive and pressing queries, like what servers work with US Netflix, are simply not worth asking.

At least, ProtonVPN’s support team is knowledgeable and helpful in its responses, despite the long wait.

ProtonVPN Review Summary

The Bottom Line

Overall, we recommend using ProtonVPN if privacy and security is your primary reason for using a VPN.

Although the paid plans are rather expensive, ProtonVPN’s Secure Core network adds a strong extra layer of encryption to highly-sensitive network traffic.

The VPN also provides a range of servers optimized for fast P2P activity and for connecting to the Tor network.

Recently, ProtonVPN has also become a good VPN for streaming, with regular and fast access to US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and more.

The main downside of using ProtonVPN is its limited device compatibility. There’s no Smart DNS feature and no browser extensions. Plus, the mobile apps lack an internet kill switch.

ProtonVPN Compared to Other VPNs

Use the table below to see how ProtonVPN compares to other top VPNs in key performance categories:

As you can see, ProtonVPN can’t quite match the very best VPN services. That said, it stands out in certain categories and, if it continues to improve, it could soon compete at the very top.

Additional research by Luke Williams

Alternatives to ProtonVPN

Private Internet Access logo

Private Internet Access

8.88.8/10

Private Internet Access matches many of ProtonVPN’s privacy and security features but includes a lot more to make it a more fully-featured VPN. PIA is fast, it comes with browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, and it has 24/7 live chat customer support. Read Private Internet Access review

Mullvad VPN logo in horizontal orientation.

Mullvad

8.18.1/10

Mullvad is very similar to ProtonVPN. It too has open-sourced its apps, with a primary focus on providing the most advanced primary and security features. It's one of the fastest VPNs, and it's available for a cheap monthly price. Read Mullvad review

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio


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