A Brief Overview of ProtonVPN Company
ProtonVPN is a contribution of the same team that brought ProtonMail – the encrypted email service housed in an underground bunker; not just emails, ProtonVPN has some of its servers in a Cold War-era Swiss fallout, 3,000 feet below the surface.
ProtonVPN is the brainchild of the engineers, scientists, and developers from CERN and MIT who built the successful ProtonMail and become largest secure email service in the world. For this ProtonVPN review, we did an in-depth analysis of the service, with an aim to reveal the rights and wrongs about this relatively newer VPN.
Where Is ProtonVPN Based?
The Swiss-based service launched back in mid-2017, and it has generated enough attention already, among those familiar with the ProtonMail project.
Being home in Swiss gives it an immediate privacy advantage over most of its competition; Swiss has strong privacy laws, and is outside of US and EU jurisdiction, and not even a member of the 14 eyes surveillance network.
ProtonVPN Features – Exploring The Real ProtonVPN
Let's dive into the list of the features offered by ProtonVPN.
ProtonVPN Server Network
The number of servers offered is critical to look at; more servers means more options for spoofing location. If you’re a frequent traveler, take note: a nearby VPN server likely is faster and reliable than one in another country or continent. You want a VPN with lots of servers so that one will always be close at hand, no matter where you go.
ProtonVPN offers only 342 servers across 30 countries (Asia, Europe, North America, Australia, etc.); quite small but growing. One interesting element here is that ProtonVPN has started polling its users to determine where new servers should be added. The recent poll led to servers opening in South Africa. ProtonVPN also provides a handy list of all its servers -locations, services (Tor, P2P), and pricing tier to access that location.
ProtonVPN doesn't use virtual servers, instead boasts software-defined servers that make one server like dozens, and each configured to appear in different countries. For your knowledge; virtual servers are harder to track exactly where the data is heading.
ProtonVPN Protocols and Encryption
Striving to provide the highest possible security, ProtonVPN only supports OpenVPN, the most secure encryption protocol. It boasts the strongest AES-256 encryption, with a key exchange with 2048-bit RSA and HMAC with SHA256 employed for message authentication.
ProtonVPN also adds extra protection; its traffic is routed through multiple servers before leaving the network, so even high-tech snoopers won't be able to trace individual users. Additionally, it supports forward secrecy means the service uses a new encryption key for every session. If that key is compromised, it can't decrypt other traffic.
With ProtonVPN, choose between 4 plans: Free, Basic, Plus, and Visionary.
A free plan has no annoying ads and no bandwidth limitations, but the speeds are quite low. You can use only on one device at a time and can access servers in only three countries. No additional features, like Secure Core and P2P and Tor support.
The Basic plan allows servers in all countries, use the service on two devices, and enjoy high speeds. However, you still cannot use any of the advanced features. The price is $4/month; pay $48/year and save $12.
With the Plus plan, you can use all the servers of the ProtonVPN network, enjoy up to five simultaneous connections, with the highest speeds, and connect to the high-speed Plus servers. Furthermore, you can also get your traffic route through both the Secure Core network and Tor network. The price is $8/month; pay $96/year and save $24.
Finally, with the Visionary plan, you can get all the benefits, along with ten simultaneous connections. The price of the ProtonVPN Visionary plan is $24/month; save $72 and pay $288/year.
No matter which subscription you choose, you can cancel any time, and you have 60-day to claim your money back. Payment options include major credit cards and PayPal.
The best VPNs we’ve reviewed have already providing pre-built apps for every device imaginable; point and click, no technical experience or manual labor required.
ProtonVPN supports Mac, iOS, Windows, and Android devices; older versions of the Mac OS are supposed to use tunnelblick, an open source software. ProtonVPN can also be installed on AsusWRT router.
ProtonVPN for Windows
The Windows client looks professional, featuring a funky map, with a more useful yet detailed list of all the available servers. Each server will tell you the load percentage; that would be of help picking a fast server.
Or else, click Quick Connect and let the software choose the fastest server for you. You can also select a country to let the software auto-select a server there.
Servers that support Secure Core, Tor, and multiple pricing plans are clearly labeled. Upon connecting, a graph displays your connection speeds and bandwidth usage.
The windows client supports DNS leak protection and a kill switch. The kill switch is firewall-based, makes it impossible for PC to connect to the internet outside the VPN connection.
Overall, it’s a smart-looking piece of software that includes the most important things that a netizen seek from a VPN client.
Note: the ProtonVPN client is only for Windows at this time, else are under development; for others, use the following.
ProtonVPN for Mac OS
ProtonVPN offers a native macOS VPN app, but you can’t find it in the Mac App Store. Instead, you'll have to download and install from ProtonVPN's website.
Or else, use Tunnelblick client; there’s no support for IPSec IKEv2 which allows Mac OS built-in VPN configuration.
ProtonVPN for Android
Recently, ProtonVPN has rolled-out its Android App, we haven't had the chance to review that yet, but we will update this ProtonVPN review once we do. The app appears to be the same as the desktop application, means you’ll get a consistent experience while melding it with Android's Material Design.
ProtonVPN for iOS
ProtonVPN does not offer an iPhone VPN app. Though it’s unfortunate, not all is lost. ProtonVPN provides instructions to configure your iPhone to use ProtonVPN manually.
Not all the features are active on all operating systems. For example, the killswitch doesn’t work on the most recent Mac operating system, and the drop-down menu on the desktop bar for Mac is a gray compared to the more colorful Windows version.
How To Sign Up For ProtonVPN
To sign, provide a username and valid email address; you can use a disposable email address but must be verified. To verify an account, either accept an SMS or make a donation.
SMS verification, of course, require your phone number. However,
“We do not permanently save your email or phone number, it is deleted after verification.”
To sign up anonymously, go with subscriptions and donations using Bitcoin.
If you already a ProtonMail account holder, use that credentials. Once you’ve signed up, download the software or configuration files.
The first line of support is an FAQ; not extensive but appear to address many common questions and issues. The website has a comprehensive yet updated knowledge base for self-help prospects. You’ll find instructions for how-tos in the FAQ under the “download and setup” menu.
However, if you can’t find anything there, then, you’ll have to send an email or a ticket and have to wait for a belated response to the inquiry. A response to our easy question took about four hours, and a difficult question was answered the next day with a link to a webpage that provided the answer we needed.
ProtonVPN doesn’t score very high in customer support, we would expect a VPN like ProtonVPN to offer live chat, but it does not. The only way to get in touch is via email or a support ticket.
That being said, we have no such issues with the support team itself. The response we received was informative, professional, and to the point. Nevertheless, if ProtonVPN starts competing with the superstars in the field, improvements are needed in the customer support system, need to add more efficient communication channels including a live chat and decreasing response times within the ticket system.
ProtonVPN for Netflix
Yes! ProtonVPN respects your Netflix needs; watch Netflix using ProtonVPN from certain servers, while connected to the ProtonVPN Plus US server, keeping your privacy and anonymity intact.
For the fastest and reliable connection, connect to the servers that are closest to your current location. Keep in mind that you should have a valid Netflix subscription to access Netflix legally.
Note: Secure Netflix streaming is not available on smartphones right now, only desktop devices are well-supported.
Use the following VPN servers to watch US Netflix using ProtonVPN.
- US-CA#3 – 8
- US-CO#5 – 8
- US-VA#3 – 4
- US-IL#1 – 8
- US-NJ#1 – 4
- US-TX#2 – 3
Still experiencing issues watching US Netflix, try the following:
- Restart ProtonVPN and VPN connection.
- Clear browser and DNS cache.
- Use a different browser.
- Restart your device.
Netflix may not always work; tried all options and still facing issues? Feel free to contact ProtonVPN Support team. Other than Netflix, this also supports other streaming services like Amazon and fubo.tv and others too.
Does ProtonVPN Work In China?
In countries with restrictive Internet regulations including China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, and others, or those with broad surveillance -USA, UK, etc. – state surveillance agencies typically coerce either the VPN or the network/server provider of the VPN, to assist network monitoring. Therefore, though ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland, still unsure their VPN servers in such countries are being monitored or whether the user privacy is being compromised or not.
Also Read: 5 Best VPNs for China
Currently, ProtonVPN is not working in China; it’s better to bookmark this ProtonVPN review and whenever you’re trying to connect in China, do check this blog; we update our blogs routinely.
ProtonVPN Logging Policy – It’s Strictly No-logging
We’ve analyzed multiple VPN logging policies; this is often painstaking yet boring work. But it’s important for our beloved readers.
Let’s see what ProtonVPN is saying;
Most VPN companies say that they don’t keep logs, but that's true to only to some extent. For this, ProtonVPN only stores limited information to enforce company policy about how devices are connected at a time. This information is a timestamp that does not include an IP address; this makes harder to match against an actual person. ProtonVPN also uses that timestamp to protect from brute-force password attacks.
ProtonVPN associates account with an email address, but this address can be whatever you like. The company suggests ProtonMail if you'd prefer to remain utterly anonymous.
Sign up for the free plan won't ask any payment details, and even if you subscribe and add the payment method, don’t worry! ProtonVPN is not interested in your billing details. Also, the website is privacy-conscious than expected, with are no ads, and uses a local Piwik installation rather Google Analytics.
ProtonVPN privacy has some surprising information, like the fact that even the company's website does not log your IP addresses. ProtonVPN does not profit from user data, nor does it serve ads. That's good since these practices incentivize poor privacy for better profits.
A large section of ProtonVPN’s policy is devoted to data security, a subject that’s near and dear to ProtonVPN. It should be noted that information on its servers is encrypted, which is a bit of a worrying word. That said, criticism has levied against data centers that tout security but fail to have adequate security. After all, everything is “ another IP in the cyberspace.”
ProtonVPN has a solid reputation so, it’s confirmed that when they say “no logging,” you can trust it.
In Short, ProtonVPN is…… A Middle-of-the-road Provider
ProtonVPN is excellent with no data limits and speed results that are better than most others. ProtonVPN doesn’t raise any red flags about security with its core functions which are superior in every respect. After the success of ProtonMail, everyone was expecting something special with ProtonVPN. By-and-large, ProtonVPN is a privacy-focused VPN that is secure and fast when connected to a nearby sever.
The Secure Core network is not as innovative as ProtonVPN would have us believe but is nevertheless executed well. At present, ProtonVPN doesn’t offer any obfuscation technology to evade VPN blocks. It doesn’t let you change encryption protocols, nor does it have a wider server location. It doesn’t even have the unusual locations to make up for the lack of geographical coverage.
If you want a secure, no frills, monthly service without technical headaches, then the basic or plus services might suit you.
If you already have experienced ProtonVPN, let us know in a comment below.