ProtonVPN Review (Jan. 2021) – Is ProtonVPN Trustworthy?
ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland, a country that has the most draconian data retention laws in entire Europe.
It has both a free and premium version, but the latter is gravely expensive when compared with the limited feature it offers.
Although it does not leak your IP or DNS, there are more pressing matters that you should learn about ProtonVPN in this review.
Where is ProtonVPN Based?
ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland which is an unsafe jurisdiction. In fact, Switzerland has the most draconian data retention laws in all of Europe.
In 2002, the Swiss surveillance laws only allowed government agencies to collect data such as email for only six months.
But in 2015, the Swiss government passed amendments to the existing surveillance laws known as BUPF and NDG.
This amendment granted Police with new powers to gather information like Email, Phone, Postal Address, and IP address of its people.
They even have the power to install Trojans on their devices if anyone does not comply with the law. this violates the basic rights and even the values of democracy.
How Many Servers Does ProtonVPN Have?
ProtonVPN premium plan has approximately 1,019 servers that are available in 51 countries. For ProtonVPN free plan, you will find only 8 servers that are available in 3 countries i.e. US, Netherlands, and Japan.
The total list of servers that I have mentioned above is broken down into 2 sections i.e. Secure Core servers and Standard servers.
Secure Core are unique servers that protect users’ against network attacks. Even if the government where ProtonVPN servers are available tries to get control of the VPN server, they won’t be able to track users’ original IP address and their location.
This happens in countries where there are restrictive internet regulations such as Russia, Iran, China, or the countries where there is broad surveillance such as the US and UK.
Secure Core servers are only available in the Plus and Visionary Plans.
Is ProtonVPN Safe for Torrenting?
Yes, ProtonVPN is certainly a safe option for torrenting. However, that only refers to the premium plan. ProtonVPN free does not support P2P traffic.
Not all of its servers are P2P supported. You can find ProtonVPN torrenting servers in the premium version with two arrows pointing in different ways. Only connected to these servers for downloading torrents.
You can find P2P supported servers in the premium version indicated with two arrows pointing in different ways. Only connected to these servers for downloading torrents.
These servers are available in Iceland, Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Is ‘ProtonVPN Free’ Safe?
It is safe to assume that Proton VPN Free users also benefit from the same level of strong encryption that ProtonVPN Premium uses.
Both versions uses AES-256 encryption with 4096-bit RSA Key Exchange, HMAC SHA384 message authentication, and Perfect Forward Secrecy.
ProtonVPN uses two types of protocols i.e. OpenVPN and IKEv2. The new fast and most secure protocol ‘WireGuard’ is in the beta phase and the stable version hasn’t been launched yet.
Additional Security Features
Secure Core Servers: As mentioned earlier, these servers protect users’ data even when a particular server is compromised or had a network attack. Turn ON this feature and you will find list servers that are completely secure.
Kill Switch: This features automatically kills the internet when a VPN connection drops. It keeps your original IP address leaking to your ISP once a VPN connection drops all of a sudden.
DNS Leak Prevention: It prevents from any DNS request leaks by encrypting your DNS queries.
Tor Over VPN: It routes all your internet traffic through the Tor anonymity network with one-click Tor integration.
Does ProtonVPN Hide IP Address?
Yes, ProtonVPN completely hides your IP address when I connected to its Belgium server. I used this website to check for any IP and DNS Leaks.
Also, I found ONE Riskware Agent virus available in its installation file as well. Here is a screenshot of all the tests.
There was no IP leak when I connected to the Belgium server. It did not leak my original IP address.
There was no leak in the DNS request. It is safe to assume that it does not leak DNS.
There was Rsikware Agent found by Virus Total on the ProtonVPNs Windows installation file. This means the file is not safe to use.
Is ProtonVPN Trustworthy? Does It Keep Logs?
ProtonVPN does NOT store any of the following:
- Browsing history or users’ internet traffic
- Original IP address
These are the following information ProtonVPN collects:
- Username and Email address
- Last 4 Digits of Credit Card
The above information is deleted once your account is deleted. The timestamps do not contain your IP address or your location. It only tells them at what time and date did the user made a login attempt.
Despite everything, ProtonVPN clearly mentions that:
“If they’re compelled by the law to disclose user data and information for the purpose of criminal offense, investigation, and threat to public security, then under Swiss Law it is mandatory to disclose such information.”
Does ProtonVPN Sell Your Data?
No, ProtonVPN does not share your data with any third-parties. They only use the collected personal information for account-related questions, communication, and recovery.
This data is also used to send emails, invoices, receipts, a notice of delinquency, etc. ProtonVPN only uses third-parties for secure credit card transaction processing.
Does ProtonVPN Work with Netflix?
No, ProtonVPN does not work with Netflix although it claims that it does. I connected to 5 different US servers to see if I can unblock American Netflix, but of no use.
Whenever I tried to visit Netflix website with ProtonVPN Netflix server connected, I would receive this error:
But once I tried using BBC iPlayer, I was able to unblock the streaming service. Here is the screenshot when I was able to stream ‘Katy Keene’.
How Many Devices Does ProtonVPN Support?
It’s important to mention here that each of its pricing plans holds a unique number of simultaneous connections. These are mentioned below:
- Free Plan – 1 Device Simultaneously
- Basic Plan – 2 Devices Simultaneously
- Plus Plan – 5 Devices Simultaneously
- Visionary Plan – 10 Devices Simultaneously
ProtonVPN Windows App
It’s Windows app is quite straight forward and easy to use. On the left side, you will find a list of servers you wish to connect.
On the top-left corner, you will find the settings option and your account details. Once you connect to any server, you will see some important stats on the right side of the app. These stats include Sessions, Download and Upload Speed, etc.
ProtonVPN Android App
The user interface of the Android app looks the same as the Windows app. You can use the Secure Core feature to route your traffic through their secure network.
Through the settings menu, you can select and enable different features like Always-on, tunneling protocol, and DNS leak protection.
How Do I Download ProtonVPN?
Follow these steps to download ProtonVPN on any device. I have used an example of a Windows app.
Step 1: Subscribe or Register to ProtonVPN
Step 2: Download ProtonVPN for your preferred device
Step 3: Once downloaded, open the file and enter Username/Password
Step 4: Connect to any server e.g. Hong Kong
Step 5: Once connected, start browsing privately
How Fast is ProtonVPN Free?
Not so fast actually. The speed test that I performed for ProtonVPN resulted in average speed.
To perform this test, I connected ProtonVPN to 3 different servers US, Brazil, and Denmark. My original internet speed without connected to a VPN was recorded 20 Mbps.
US Server (Los Angeles)
By connecting to this server, my internet speed was decreased by 36%.
Brazil Server (Sao Paulo)
By connecting to this server, my internet speed was decreased by 38%.
Denmark Server (Copehnhagen)
By connecting to this server, my internet speed was decreased by 40%.
Is ProtonVPN Completely Free?
ProtonVPN comes with a free and a premium plan. There are 3 different pricing plans for the premium version and they’re not cheap at all.
Here is a look at ProtonVPN pricing:
- Free Version
- $4/mo (Annual Plan/Basic)
- $8/mo (Annual Plan/Plus)
- $24/mo (Annual Plan/Visionary)
The payment methods include Credit Card, PayPal, and bitcoin. If you’re using a free plan and want to upgrade, you will need to go to your Account Dashboard.
With a free ProtonVPN plan, you will get average speed and 3 country servers to connect. For the Basic Plan, you get coverage to all of its servers, P2P supported servers, and connection for up to 2 devices.
For the Plus Plan, you get all of the basic plans and additional you get Plus Servers, Secure Core, TOR, and Secure Streaming. Lastly, you get ProtonMail with the Visionary Plan.
It’s refund policy clearly states that for any unused portion of the service, you can get your refund within 30 days of the initial purchase. This means you won’t get the full refund but the unused portion of the service which could be could be counted as ‘days remaining until the subscription ends‘.
Is ProtonVPN Customer Support Responsive?
There is no live chat support offered by ProtonVPN but the customer support is responsive to other mediums. These include:
- Support Form
- General Information
- Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
- Setup Guides
There isn’t much you can do about their customer support. I thought if they’re charging at least $4/mo for their basic plan, they should have a diverse customer support service.
Do I Recommend ProtonVPN?
No, I do not recommend using the ProtonVPN premium plan, but I would rather recommend using ProtonVPN free version.
ProtonVPN isn’t exactly safe to use. Even though it uses the most advanced encryption but since it is based in Switzerland (unsafe jurisdiction), it is bound to share your data if compelled by the authorities.
The ProtonVPN review that we discussed here shows that its speed isn’t fast enough. The service speed isn’t fast enough too despite the fact that it doesn’t throttle your speed. ProtonVPN is not the right choice for people looking for fast speed and keeping their online activities anonymous.
So, if you ask me if ProtonVPN good enough for the price it currently offers, I would definitely say no. There are other options that need to be explored.
To learn more about VPNs that fit your needs, check out our list of best VPNs Australia.
|Server Network||1,019+ servers in 51 countries|
|Logging Policy||Keeps minimal Connection Logs|
|Customer Support||Email, Form, and Social Media|
|Torrenting Support||Yes (Only Premium)|
|Protocols & Encryption||OpenVPN and 256-bit encryption|
|Price||Free, $4/mo, $8/mo, and $24/mo|