ProtonVPN: Is It Safe [Full 2022 Report]
With its headquarters in Switzerland, Proton VPN markets itself as a safe, high-quality option for privacy-conscious Internet users. Proton Mail, a private email service, released it to the public in 2017. To answer that question, I conducted extensive research to provide this comprehensive Proton VPN review for 2022.
It’s possible that the exam results and responses will shock you. In this Proton VPN review, I will address the following issues:
Overall, Proton VPN has improved, although it still falls behind other major VPNs in a few crucial areas.
What Is ProtonVPN?
The Proton Technologies AG, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, owns and manages ProtonVPN. ProtonMail is a secure email service designed to shield activists, journalists, and others from surveillance around the world. ProtonVPN is its brother.
In 2014, a collaboration of scientists, engineers, and programmers in Geneva established Proton. The defense of internet civil liberties was a shared priority for the two groups. They collaborated to launch ProtonMail, an encrypted email service that has now attracted 20 million users. ProtonVPN came afterward, and it was created to build on top of existing privacy safeguards.
FONGIT provides backing for the business. FONT is a non-profit organization that helps new technology businesses in the State of Geneva. It is funded by the Swiss Federal Commission. The European Commission backs the corporation, and the country enjoys the protections afforded by Swiss privacy legislation.
|IP Addresses||Shared IP address with other users|
Will ProtonVPN Log My Data?
A simple yes or no cannot be given for any VPN when asked this. The world is rarely that simple. I know, it’s frustrating. In reality, though, every VPN does keep logs of certain information.
Despite this, from a privacy standpoint, ProtonVPN is a top choice. Even if the Swiss government makes a request, ProtonVPN has nothing to give them because, as we documented in our ProtonVPN privacy report, the VPN doesn’t keep any logs of its users’ VPN connection data.
In light of the foregoing, it is clear that ProtonVPN lives up to its promise of keeping no logs of user activity during a session. For security reasons against password brute-force attacks, it simply stores the time of your most recent login attempt. While ProtonVPN does not collect any information that might be used to identify its users, it does log the following information:
- Email address
- Support requests or bug reports
- Payment information
ProtonVPN maintains all personal data in its encrypted local servers until you deactivate your account, at which point the firm promises to destroy all of this information.
Does ProtonVPN Have A Kill Switch?
Relax; activating the kill switch won’t cause any harm. A kill switch, also known as a network lock feature, will prevent any data from being sent or received online in the event that your VPN connection drops. Consider it a digital alternative to your original plan.
Assume you are utilizing a virtual private network (VPN) to download a massive file through torrent; doing so will take several hours. It’s important to have a kill switch in place because if the VPN connection drops for any reason, your ISP will know what you’re up to and it could have serious consequences. Fortunately, ProtonVPN supports kill switches on all of the most popular platforms, including Mac OS X, Windows, Android, iOS, and Linux.
Does ProtonVPN Offer Split Tunneling?
A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts your data in transit across the internet. With split tunneling, a virtual private network (VPN) creates two tunnels, one of which connects directly to your Internet service provider (ISP) as if you weren’t using a VPN at all, and the other of which send your traffic through the VPN.
As an illustration, this function would make it possible to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) while also accessing Netflix in your own country. Split tunneling is an essential feature for some, while for others it’s more of a nice-to-have. Split tunneling is supported by ProtonVPN for both Windows and Android.
Can I Use Netflix with ProtonVPN?
ProtonVPN offers free, basic, and plus tiers of service, all of which will be covered here. If you upgrade to Plus, your VPN will work with Netflix. Streaming services like Netflix require a faster connection than is available with Free or Basic, and there is no way to access Plus servers. Changing your IP address and, thus, your virtual location enables you to gain access to different forms of geo-restricted content with either the Free or Basic subscription.
Any user with a Basic or Plus plan can access P2P file sharing options like torrents. However, if you intend to torrent frequently, you will benefit more from the increased speeds offered by the Plus servers.
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Using AES-256 for encryption, 4096-bit RSA for key exchange, and HMAC with SHA384 for message authentication, ProtonVPN ensures the security of all network traffic. Perfect forward secrecy is maintained across all of your VPN traffic, meaning that even if someone were to find your encryption keys, they would only be used for decrypting a single session. In this article, we define each encryption standard and show you how to use it.
With 128-, 192-, or 256-bit keys, data can be encrypted using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm. Given its speed, security, and low resource requirements, AES-256 (AES with a 256-bit key) has become the de facto standard in the encryption industry. Some refer to AES-256 as “military-grade encryption” since it is used to protect classified U.S. government secrets.
The RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman) algorithm is another example of a cryptographic method for transmitting data safely over the internet. Since it is slower than AES, VPNs typically only utilize it to send keys over the network instead of all of the data. After encrypting data with AES, VPNs use RSA to transfer the decryption keys to their servers. When compared to the industry standard of 2048 bits for RSA keys, ProtonVPN’s 4096 bits is a significant upgrade.
HMAC with SHA384
Hash-based Message Authentication Code, or HMAC, is a method for determining whether or not a message has been tampered with. ProtonVPN uses SHA384 (384-bit Secure Hash Algorithm) cryptographic hash functions to generate shared secret keys.
How virtual private networks (VPNs) route packets of data across networks is governed by connection protocols used to access the Internet. Security in a virtual private network (VPN) is determined by the protocol it employs. Some virtual private networks (VPNs) sacrifice security for the sake of increased speed and reduced upkeep expenses.
ProtonVPN is different since it uses OpenVPN for its Mac and Android VPN clients and IKEv2/IPSec for its Windows and iOS VPN clients. Both of those techniques have been deemed extremely secure by experts in the field of information security.
OpenVPN is a VPN protocol used by VPNs to create encrypted tunnels for your data. For its excellent mix of speed and security, OpenVPN is often regarded as the best VPN protocol. It supports a wide variety of VPN protocols, including PPTP, L2TP, IKEv2/IPSec, SSTP, and others, and provides up to 256-bit encryption using the Open SSL library.
With Internet Key Exchange version 2, your VPN connection is automatically restored whenever your internet connection drops. Switching between Wi-Fi and mobile hotspots is a common task when using a mobile device.
WireGuard is an up-and-coming, freely available VPN protocol. Despite its novelty, it adheres to tried-and-true cryptographic protocols like ChaCha20, BLAKE2, and Poly1305. When compared to OpenVPN and IKEv2, its privacy and security features fall short. WireGuard, on the other hand, brags about its lightweight code, which implies it won’t need as many resources as more robust protocols like OpenVPN. So, even on mobile devices, ProtonVPN says it can set up VPN connections in under a second. If you plan on utilizing ProtonVPN for long periods of time, this may help extend the life of your battery.
To find out if ProtonVPN can keep up with the other VPNs in terms of speed, we first had to establish that it was secure. A VPN’s efficiency is measured in part by its ability to conceal your IP address and transfer data at breakneck speeds. So, let’s test out ProtonVPN and see how it does on all of the devices we use it on.
The ProtonVPN connection speed you receive is determined by the type of membership package you purchased. Both Basic and Plus will be noticeably quicker than Free. Tests were conducted only with the help of ProtonVPN Plus.
Selecting a VPN can slow down your connection speed, but this is to be expected regardless of the service you use. VPNs provide more security, but this comes at a cost. There are various variables that affect your connection speed, including the time of day, your location, your ISP, the distance between your device and the VPN server, and your VPN provider.
To evaluate ProtonVPN, we used it on a Macbook Pro with macOS Mojave and a ThinkPad T430 with Windows 10. Quick Connect allowed us to quickly connect to the best servers available to us.
Download Speed Tests
|Without VPN||463.85 Mbps|
|With VPN||61.47 Mbps|
|Without VPN||157.52 Mbps|
|With VPN||91.41 Mbps|
When comparing download speeds, we started with Mbps (Mbps). ProtonVPN ran smoothly and quickly on Windows.
Although there was a 42% drop, I was still able to download at speeds greater than 90 Mbps. The decrease in internet speed was more noticeable on our Mac because we had a higher baseline to begin with. The rate at which we could download content slowed by 87%.
This may sound terrible, but even with this issue, our Mac’s internet speed stayed far above 60 Mbps, which is more than enough for streaming. When comparing Windows and Mac, ProtonVPN performed better overall.
Upload Speed Tests
|Without VPN||28.66 Mbps|
|With VPN||25.6 Mbps|
|Without VPN||28.95 Mbps|
|With VPN||27.88 Mbps|
Then, we compared the VPN’s effect on our upload speeds. Our Windows upload speeds were only slightly reduced by ProtonVPN, at 4%. Upload speeds on Mac computers have dropped by an additional 10%, which is still respectable.
Ping Speed Tests
|Without VPN||10 ms|
|With VPN||11 ms|
|Without VPN||10 ms|
|With VPN||12 ms|
Our last test was of the latency, or ping, in milliseconds. Specifically, ProtonVPN performed admirably. One millisecond was added to the delay on our Mac, and two milliseconds were added to the latency on our Windows PC. This is highly promising evidence that ProtonVPN is an excellent choice for online gaming.
The overall speed of ProtonVPN on our machines was impressive. We were concerned that employing such stringent VPN protocols would cause our connection speeds to suffer, however, this proved not to be the case. While there may be faster VPNs out there, we have no reason to doubt ProtonVPN Plus’ security features if it consistently delivers speeds like this.
DNS Leak Test
Due to the potential for DNS (Domain Name System) server traffic to leak out of the VPN tunnel and expose your true IP address, doing a DNS leak test is essential. Thankfully, ProtonVPN has a feature that prevents DNS leaks. The “DNS Leak Protection” feature in the ProtonVPN app is enabled by default and cannot be disabled for security reasons.
Our connection’s public IP address was located in Italy, as seen above, according to ProtonVPN’s logs. This simple test confirmed that our VPN was functioning as intended because that IP address is not our actual IP address and we were not physically located in Italy at the time.
|Number of server locations||3||40+||63||63|
|Server access||Free servers only||Free and Basic servers||All servers||All servers|
|Total number of servers||23||400||1,418||1,418|
|Access to P2P servers||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Access to Secure Core servers||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Number of devices||1||2||10||10|
|Speed priority||Medium speed||High speed||Highest speed (up to 10 Gbps)||Highest speed (up to 10 Gbps)|
To fulfill its purpose of making private, risk-free Internet access accessible to all, ProtonVPN must ensure that its VPN service is reasonably priced. There are free, basic, plus, and visionary tiers of service available on ProtonVPN.
Despite its free price tag, ProtonVPN Free only provides the most basic features of a full VPN service. When you upgrade from the free tier to the Basic plan, you can connect to additional servers in any country where the service is offered. Plus, the top tier, grants you access to the most servers, the highest speeds, and the most secure servers. Visionary provides all the benefits of Plus, plus an account with ProtonMail Visionary for encrypted email.
Each subscription plan has its own unique set of features and supports a different number of devices. One device is allowed for use with a free account, two with a Basic account, and ten with a Plus or Visionary account.
You can select a monthly, annual, or biannual payment schedule for the Basic, Plus, and Visionary programs. If you sign up for at least a year, you’ll get a 20% discount, and if you sign up for two years, you’ll get a 33% discount. If you are unhappy with ProtonVPN for any reason within the first 30 days, you can request a refund for the unused portion of your subscription.
In general, we appreciate ProtonVPN’s no-cost plan. Having a free alternative from a reputable firm that isn’t looking to profit off of our personal data is great, especially because we wouldn’t touch most free VPNs (save the best free VPNs, of course) with a ten-foot pole. ProtonVPN Free is a fantastic VPN service that we strongly endorse. Check out ProtonVPN’s Black Friday specials for even more money-saving options.
ProtonVPN Customer Support
No matter which VPN you choose, you will likely need to contact customer support at some point unless you are either exceptionally fortunate or very technically adept. Let’s find out how helpful ProtonVPN’s customer service is.
If you need help with ProtonVPN, you can only do it using their online ticket system. To be very frank, we would have appreciated more ways to get in touch with help (like a phone number or a chat feature). Exchanges of emails are as slow as it gets when it comes to communicating with one another.
However, ProtonVPN’s comprehensive knowledge library may be of use if time is of the essence. Questions about accounts, VPN setup, billing, troubleshooting, and other topics are covered in detail. Again, we wish ProtonVPN offered phone or live chat assistance, but this isn’t a deal breaker.
The ProtonVPN App
You may download the ProtonVPN app for your computer, smartphone, or tablet running Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, or Linux. There is a one-click connect feature built into the ProtonVPN apps that activates the VPN service. When it comes to virtual private networks (VPNs), ProtonVPN’s 4.2 rating on Google Play and 3.9 rating on the App Store are both very respectable.
Recap of ProtonVPN
Put simply, go with ProtonVPN. It’s not easy to find a free VPN that doesn’t skimp on security, but ProtonVPN’s free tier checks all the boxes. In addition, we like the company’s openness and privacy protections. But is ProtonVPN the right VPN for you?