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ProtonVPN Review: Is It Safe + Trustworthy? [Full 2022 Report]

Eric Goldstein
Eric Goldstein
Published on: August 24, 2022

ProtonVPN Review: Quick Expert Summary

ProtonVPN has excellent security, top-notch privacy features, and a really simple interface, and it maintained fast speeds in all of my speed tests. It protects user data with 256-bit AES encryption, advanced server architecture, a strict no-logs policy, a kill switch, and much more. It also has apps for all major platforms, and it allows 10 simultaneous connections on a single account.

ProtonVPN also has:

  • Dedicated servers for torrenting — Works with all major torrenting clients like uTorrent, BitTorrent, qBittorrent, and Vuze.
  • Split tunneling — Allows you to route some of your internet traffic through the VPN and some through your local network.
  • NetShield — Blocks ads, tracking sites, and malicious websites.
  • VPN Accelerator — Uses state-of-the-art technology to increase VPN speeds while connected to distant servers.
  • Open-source apps — Anyone can check the source code for ProtonVPN’s apps to make sure they’re safe to use. ProtonVPN’s apps have also been independently audited and verified.
  • Full leak protection — ProtonVPN provides full protection against IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leaks.
  • Tor over VPN — Lets you access the Tor privacy network using regular web browsers, like Chrome and Firefox.
  • And a lot more…

ProtonVPN is one of the best VPNs on the market, but there are a couple of things that need improvement. For starters, ProtonVPN isn’t able to bypass internet firewalls — so if you live in or are traveling to a country that restricts the internet, ProtonVPN isn’t a good option (ExpressVPN is the best for that). I’d also like to see ProtonVPN use RAM-only servers so no user data is ever stored on the hard drive, offer access to browser extensions, include access to a smart DNS to access streaming content on devices that don’t support VPNs, provide 24/7 live chat, and respond to customer support emails quicker.

ProtonVPN has a free plan and monthly and yearly subscription plans that come with a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.

🏅 Overall Rank #3 out of 78 VPNs
🌍 Number of Servers 1,700+
📱 Number of Devices 10
💸 Starting Price $4.99 / month
🎁 Free Plan Yes
💰 Money-Back Guarantee 30 days (prorated)

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ProtonVPN Full Review

ProtonVPN Full Review

I spent a few weeks testing, researching, and looking into all aspects of ProtonVPN, and I can safely say that it’s one of the top VPNs on the market.

ProtonVPN has a reputation as being a high-privacy VPN, coming from the same company that makes the ultra-secure, encrypted email service ProtonMail.

And this VPN really does have lots of high-privacy features, along with intuitive user apps, strong streaming and torrenting capabilities, and very fast connection speeds.

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ProtonVPN Features

ProtonVPN Features

ProtonVPN includes all of the essential VPN privacy features, like:

  • 256-bit AES encryption. This is one of the strongest encryption algorithms in the world (sometimes called “military-grade” encryption).
  • No-logs policy. ProtonVPN doesn’t keep logs of personal information or online activity.
  • Kill switch. This feature automatically disconnects you from the internet if your VPN connection fails. Note that ProtonVPN’s in-app kill switch is only available on iOS, Linux, macOS, and Windows. But there are similar features for Android.

ProtonVPN also has a few extra security features, like:

  • Perfect forward secrecy. This changes your encryption key each time you connect to a ProtonVPN server, so if one encryption key is compromised, only the data on that one key is vulnerable (and not any past or future sessions).
  • Full-disk encryption. If a ProtonVPN server is compromised, disk encryption keeps all of the data on that server secure and unreadable.

Unlike top competitors like ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and CyberGhost VPN, ProtonVPN is missing RAM-only servers, which only save data to the RAM instead of the hard drive — that provides great privacy, as every server reboot wipes all data. That said, I still think ProtonVPN’s full-disk encryption is a good alternative to RAM-only servers.

ProtonVPN offers 3 protocols, including WireGuard, IKEv2/IPSec, and OpenVPN. These protocols are available for Android, iOS, and Macs, whereas the Windows app only supports WireGuard and OpenVPN. I love that ProtonVPN has WireGuard, which is a newer protocol with faster speeds than IKEv2/IPSec and OpenVPN — top VPNs like TunnelBear, PrivateVPN, and HMA don’t include WireGuard.

ProtonVPN also has built-in leak protection for DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6. I like how ProtonVPN automatically blocks IPv6 traffic, which is more convenient than competitors like TunnelBear and Private Internet Access that require you to manually block IPv6.

Split-Tunneling

ProtonVPN Features

ProtonVPN’s split-tunneling feature lets you include or exclude web browsers, apps, and even IP addresses from the VPN tunnel — this is better than most competitors’ split-tunneling features (ExpressVPN only lets you redirect apps).

However, like most other VPNs, ProtonVPN also supports split-tunneling on Windows and Android only — I’d love to see ProtonVPN add split-tunneling to the Mac or iOS app, but considering that very few competitors provide this feature for Apple users (ExpressVPN has split-tunneling for macOS 10.15 and below, and Private Internet Access supports split-tunneling on macOS 11), I can’t say this is a dealbreaker.

I tested ProtonVPN’s split-tunneling feature by connecting to a US dedicated P2P server and excluding my Chrome browser traffic from the VPN tunnel, and it worked well. It ended up increasing both my browsing and torrenting speeds.

Overall, ProtonVPN’s split-tunneling feature is really good — it does what it says it does, there are no glitches, and it’s easy to set up.

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NetShield

ProtonVPN Features

NetShield blocks ads, trackers, and malicious sites. I tested this feature by visiting websites that are usually littered with ads — NetShield blocked every single ad. These websites were then much less cluttered and even loaded a little faster because there were no more ads. NetShield performing so well is not surprising, seeing as how it’s actually ranked #2 on our list of the best VPN ad blockers.

I really like ProtonVPN’s NetShield tool. It works just as well as IVPN’s AntiTracker tool, and it is better at blocking ads than CyberGhost VPN’s ad blocker (ExpressVPN doesn’t even have an ad blocker, but it includes a tracker and malware blocker).

NetShield is no doubt one of ProtonVPN’s best security extras — it doesn’t have the full-featured phishing protection that many antiviruses have, but it blocked all ads and pop-us and prevented me from visiting malicious and tracking websites.

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VPN Accelerator

ProtonVPN Features

ProtonVPN has a speed-boosting feature called VPN Accelerator, which increases your connection speeds on distant servers (my speeds were essentially unchanged on local servers). It’s available on all of ProtonVPN’s apps, and it’s easy to find (under the Connection tab in the Settings menu) and easy to turn on (with one click).

VPN Accelerator uses state-of-the-art technology that reduces latency, bypasses congestion on the internet, and shortens the delivery of packet information to improve speeds by up to 400%, according to ProtonVPN’s website, where you can also find more detailed and technical definitions of how the feature works.

But if you aren’t tech-savvy or don’t understand very in-depth internet connection speed processes, all you really need to know is this — VPN Accelerator works!

In my tests, VPN Accelerator provided me with faster speeds than I had without VPN Accelerator on servers located in South America, Europe, and Asia (I’m located in the US). For example, here are my speeds with and without the feature while connected to the same server in Japan.

ProtonVPN Features

My download speeds more than doubled when I enabled VPN Accelerator. With the feature, websites loaded in 3 seconds and videos started in about 4 seconds. However, when I turned off the feature, the same websites loaded in 6 seconds and videos began playing in about 5-6 seconds.

Overall, I really like VPN Accelerator — it’s easy to use, it actually works as it’s intended, and I’m not aware of any other provider that has a similar feature.

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Secure Core

ProtonVPN Features

ProtonVPN’s Secure Core server architecture passes your data through 2 servers before it leaves the ProtonVPN network. This way, if a third party hacks the final destination server, it will only be able to trace your connection back to the Secure Core server (and not your device). ProtonVPN’s Secure Core servers are based in underground data centers in Switzerland, Sweden, and also on a former military base in Iceland.

Secure Core is similar to a double VPN connection — but double VPN connections bounce your data through 2 normal servers in 2 random countries while Secure Core routes your traffic through 2 Secure Core servers, including 1 hyper-secure server that’s in an ultra-secure location, thereby providing even stronger protection. ProtonVPN’s Secure Core servers are more like CyberGhost VPN’s NoSpy servers, which route your connection through servers that are securely housed at the company’s headquarters in Romania (but they don’t use 2 different servers).

Routing your traffic through 2 servers will naturally slow down your speed more than when you’re connected to just one server — when I manually connected to a Secure Core server, websites took 5-6 seconds to load, which is pretty slow. But Secure Core servers are still faster than most competitors’ double VPN features (Perfect Privacy’s double VPN connection took me an average of 10 seconds for websites to load).

I only recommend using this feature if you’re looking to take extra measures to keep your online identity anonymous or if you’re in a high-risk country that may monitor your internet traffic. Even still, ProtonVPN’s Secure Core is an excellent privacy feature that is not available with many other VPNs.

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Tor over VPN

ProtonVPN Features

ProtonVPN supports The Onion Router (Tor) over VPN on designated servers located in the US, France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Iceland, and Hong Kong.

I like how easy it is to use Tor over VPN with ProtonVPN. All that you need to do is connect to one of ProtonVPN’s Tor servers (identified by an onion icon next to the server), and then all of your traffic is automatically routed through the Tor network.

This lets you surf .onion sites on your own browser (Chrome, Firefox, etc.) instead of downloading the Tor browser. The one drawback is your internet speed slows down significantly (because it encrypts your traffic several times) while connected to the Tor network — it took me more than 15 seconds for websites to load.

Overall, ProtonVPN’s Tor over VPN is an easy and quick way to access the Tor network. Most users won’t need this tool (ProtonVPN’s regular servers are secure for normal browsing, streaming, and torrenting), but it’s an excellent (and very convenient) option for those who do need it.

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ProtonVPN Privacy & Security

ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland, which has some of the toughest data privacy laws in the world. Switzerland also doesn’t have any mandatory data retention laws, and it isn’t a part of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances (a group of nations that have agreed to share intelligence data).

ProtonVPN also has a strict no-logs policy — it only collects your email address (for communication purposes), payment details (like your name and partial info), and a timestamp of the last login attempt (but it doesn’t include any identifiable information). To remain more anonymous, you can pay with cash or Bitcoin. I also like how ProtonVPN’s no-logs policy has been independently audited and confirmed by an independent third-party — competitors like ExpressVPN have also undergone third-party audits to confirm their privacy policies, and Private Internet Access has even had its no-logs policy tested and confirmed in court (multiple times).

ProtonVPN Privacy & Security

I really like that all of ProtonVPN’s apps are open-source. This means anyone can investigate ProtonVPN’s security. Plus, all of ProtonVPN’s apps have been independently audited and verified for vulnerable security risks (the audits found only “medium” and “low” risks that ProtonVPN quickly resolved) — I think this is really great because most people don’t have the technical background to audit the apps’ code themselves. Private Internet Access also has open-source apps, but they haven’t been audited like ProtonVPN’s apps.

ProtonVPN also issues transparency reports that detail all of the requests it receives for user data (from law enforcement and government agencies). When you look at these reports, you may notice large gaps in between the dates each report is published, but this is because ProtonVPN rarely receives user data requests.

Overall, ProtonVPN has a transparent no-logs policy, is headquartered in a country with strict data privacy protection laws, and has open-source apps that have been audited and confirmed to be safe.

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ProtonVPN Speed & Performance

I conducted speed tests for a server in each of the 60+ countries where ProtonVPN has a server to find the average VPN speed using VPN Accelerator — and my average decrease in speed was 20%, which is above average.

Overall, ProtonVPN had very good speed on local servers (I’m located in the US) as well as distant servers in Europe, South America, and Africa. I maintained really good speeds for browsing, streaming, gaming, and torrenting on nearby servers, and I had a similar experience when I connected to a distant server in Australia (where videos took extra time to load but played smoothly once they started).

I first ran a speed test connected to my local internet service provider (ISP) to get a baseline of my internet speed.

ProtonVPN Speed & Performance

Then, I clicked on ProtonVPN’s Quick Connect tool (that finds the fastest server) and was connected to a nearby server. I had a 27% drop in download speed, but I was able to surf the web, watch videos on YouTube, and share files with no delay. In fact, it felt as if I wasn’t even connected to a VPN.

ProtonVPN Speed & Performance

Next, I connected to a ProtonVPN server in Italy. My ping (the time it takes for the internet signal to travel from the device to the VPN server) significantly increased and my download speed decreased by only 12% (less than my speed loss connected to a server in the US)! Websites loaded almost instantly, content on Netflix and Disney+ streamed in HD quality and without any lag (it took just 2-3 seconds for TV shows and movies to begin), and I still downloaded large files at fast speed.

ProtonVPN Speed & Performance

Finally, I connected to a ProtonVPN server in Australia, which is one of the farthest servers from my location, and I experienced slightly slower browsing speeds (although my download speed actually increased a little bit from what it was in Italy). Websites averaged about 3-4 seconds to load, and it took anywhere from 15-30 seconds for content to start to play on streaming apps, but TV shows and movies remained in HD the entire time and there was no buffering.

ProtonVPN Speed & Performance

Overall, ProtonVPN has some pretty fast speeds to support almost any online activity. I maintained great speeds when I connected to servers in the US (my home country), and ProtonVPN still provided me with sufficient speeds on distant servers to stream content with only minor delays (just for the content to load) and share P2P files. That said, ProtonVPN still isn’t as fast as ExpressVPN, but it is one of the the fastest VPNs in 2022.

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ProtonVPN Servers & IP Addresses

ProtonVPN has 1,700+ servers located in 60+ countries. Some top VPNs have more servers (CyberGhost VPN has 8100+ servers), and other VPNs have servers in more countries (ExpressVPN is in 94 countries). But ProtonVPN’s server network is still bigger than other competitors, such as PrivateVPN (200+ servers) and MullvadVPN (servers in 35+ countries). While most of ProtonVPN’s servers are located in the US and Europe, it has servers in Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia — so you’ll be able to connect to a nearby server no matter where you live.

It’s also great that ProtonVPN allows you to pick individual cities to connect to — that way, you can pick the city that’s closest to your location to get good speeds, and you can also avoid live sports blackouts in the US by connecting to a city where the game you want to watch is streaming.

Plus, ProtonVPN displays the server load, which shows how many active users are connected to a server — that makes it very easy to find the fastest servers. I always had faster speeds while connected to servers with low load than servers with high load. Top competitors like ExpressVPN and TunnelBear don’t have this metric.

I like that ProtonVPN only uses physical servers — these provide better security than virtual servers (which aren’t located in the same country whose IP address you get). ProtonVPN also uses shared IP addresses. This is good because you share the same IP address with many other users, which helps provide extra anonymity. If you’re looking for a dedicated IP address, you need to look elsewhere, as ProtonVPN doesn’t have them — PrivateVPN offers them for free and CyberGhost VPN and Private Internet Access offer them for an additional cost.

I really like ProtonVPN’s Plus servers that are designed for accessing streaming sites. I rarely had a problem streaming content on my favorite sites while I was connected to a Plus server (ProtonVPN’s free servers don’t support streaming, so you’ll need to upgrade to the premium plan to get access to the Plus servers). If you want to torrent, ProtonVPN has dedicated P2P servers located in 16+ countries.

You can use any one of Proton’s 60+ servers as an exit server while enabling Secure Core servers, and ProtonVPN will connect you to the Tor network with one click on its Tor Over VPN servers in the US, France, Germany, Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Hong Kong.

Overall, ProtonVPN has a good network of physical servers, it displays the server ping, and it has servers for streaming, torrenting, and connecting to the Tor network.

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ProtonVPN Streaming Support

ProtonVPN Streaming Support

I think ProtonVPN is one of the best VPNs for streaming because it works with 30+ streaming apps (including both popular and small streaming platforms). ProtonVPN’s free plan doesn’t support streaming, so you’ll need to get a paid subscription to get access to the Plus servers, which are optimized for streaming.

ProtonVPN is also among the best VPNs for Netflix because it’s able to consistently access this streaming platform. I’m always able to access my home library (Netflix US) when I travel abroad, and my colleague in the UK told me ProtonVPN works with Netflix UK without any issues. What’s more, ProtonVPN’s support articles claim the VPN can also access 8 other Netflix libraries, including Netflix India, Japan, and Canada — but I think ExpressVPN provides slightly better variety since it can access 10+ Netflix libraries.

In addition to Netflix, ProtonVPN is also able to access other top streaming sites like HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer. Also, it claims to work with many other streaming apps, such as DAZN, ABC, NOW TV, Peacock, RAI, fuboTV, and Pluto TV. I really like that ProtonVPN lists the streaming sites it works with in its support articles, as that provides a very fast way to find out if the VPN is able to access a particular streaming app.

ProtonVPN Streaming Support

Unfortunately, ProtonVPN is missing a smart DNS, which is a service that helps you access streaming sites on devices that don’t natively support VPNs, like gaming consoles or certain smart TVs — top competitors like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN, and Private Internet Access all provide access to a smart DNS.

On the plus side, you can manually set up ProtonVPN on your router, so that all your devices (even the ones that don’t natively support VPNs) can access streaming content using the VPN connection. And ProtonVPN provides helpful tutorials that include screenshots, so the setup process is pretty straightforward — for example, it only took me about 9–12 minutes to set up ProtonVPN on my router.

Overall, ProtonVPN is really good for streaming — it consistently works with Netflix and it can access up to 10 different Netflix libraries, and it’s also compatible with 30+ other streaming apps (including top sites like BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and Disney+).

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ProtonVPN Torrenting Support

ProtonVPN Torrenting Support

ProtonVPN provides really good torrenting support and is actually among the best P2P VPNs in 2022. While ProtonVPN doesn’t allow P2P traffic across all servers like ExpressVPN, it supports torrenting on dedicated P2P servers that are strategically located in 16+ countries around the globe, such as Iceland, Singapore, Switzerland, Canada, and the US — so it’s pretty easy for most users to find nearby servers for fast speeds.

I downloaded files using 6 different torrent clients, including qBittorrent, BitTorrent, and uTorrent, and ProtonVPN worked seamlessly with each torrent client.

qBittorrent
Vuze
Deluge
uTorrent
BitTorrent
Transmission

ProtonVPN also comes with port forwarding, which lets you connect to more peers to get faster P2P speeds — in my tests, I always had 25% faster download speeds when using port forwarding. Port forwarding is available on all P2P servers and is very easy to use, as you only need to enable it inside the VPN app.

I also think ProtonVPN provides really good security while torrenting, as it comes with a kill switch and full leak protection, so there’s no risk that your data will be leaked while downloading torrents — I actually ran leak tests while connected to servers in 10+ countries, and ProtonVPN never leaked my data. What’s more, I ran a few torrent IP leak tests while using 4 different P2P clients to make sure the torrent apps didn’t leak my real IP address, and the results always showed ProtonVPN’s IP addresses.

In addition, ProtonVPN’s NetShield is really useful, as it gets rid of ads on torrent sites, which actually makes them load faster — what’s more, it can also block connections to malicious sites to protect you from fake P2P websites.

Overall, ProtonVPN is a really good VPN for torrenting — it has P2P servers in 16+ countries, works with the most popular torrenting clients, allows port forwarding, and provides very strong security via full leak protection and its ad blocker.

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ProtonVPN Gaming Support

ProtonVPN Gaming Support

ProtonVPN provides a great gaming experience. I used it to play 10+ games of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and I always enjoyed stable connections. When I gamed on a local server in the US, I had good ping (20–24 ms) and fast connections. My ping was much higher when I used a distant server in Germany (170–180 ms), but my gaming experience was still decent since my connections to the gaming server didn’t drop. And while I did experience some lag, it wasn’t game-breaking.

I also like that ProtonVPN protects you from DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, which can disable your internet access.

And you can also use ProtonVPN on gaming devices that don’t natively support VPNs, like Xbox and PlayStation consoles. The provider has helpful tutorials (which even include screenshots) that show you how to perform the manual setup — it only took me about 12 minutes to manually set up ProtonVPN on my router to use it to play Minecraft and Dark Souls III on my PlayStation 4.

Overall, ProtonVPN is good for basic gaming because it provides smooth connections on local servers and only minor lag on distant servers, it protects you from DDoS attacks, and it works on routers. That said, if you’re a hardcore gamer who mainly wants to use a VPN for gaming, I recommend checking out ExpressVPN instead because it provides lower ping, support for cloud gaming, and even has a router app (so it’s easier to use the VPN on your gaming consoles) — plus, it’s also the #1 gaming VPN on the market.

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ProtonVPN Bypassing Censorship

ProtonVPN is not the best option for overcoming internet censorship in countries that restrict online access.

It doesn’t have certain obfuscation tools that help bypass internet blocks in countries like China. But there have been limited reports of ProtonVPN overcoming restrictions in countries that are less able to detect VPN traffic.

That said, if you live in a restrictive country, I recommend ExpressVPN, which provides obfuscation on all of its 3,000+ servers.

ProtonVPN Bypassing Censorship

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ProtonVPN Plans & Pricing

ProtonVPN Plans & Pricing

ProtonVPN has a free plan as well as several paid plans that come with the same features and only differ in the subscription length.

ProtonVPN Free allows for 1 device, has “medium” speeds, and provides access to just 3 servers (in the US, Japan, and the Netherlands). I really like how the free plan gives you unlimited data (unlike other free plans that place a limit on data), but you don’t have access to Plus servers for streaming, dedicated torrenting servers, or the NetShield. That said, ProtonVPN’s free plan is still the best free VPN on the market.

ProtonVPN’s Plus plan allows 10 simultaneous connections, access to all 1,700+ servers in 60+ countries, includes the “highest” speeds, and also adds access to the Plus servers for streaming, dedicated torrenting servers, Secure Core servers, Tor servers, and NetShield. Starting at $4.99 / month, the Plus plan is available for a 1-month, 1-year, and 2-year subscription.

All ProtonVPN premium plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, but I don’t like that ProtonVPN’s money-back guarantee is prorated. This means that you are charged for each day that you use ProtonVPN up until the 30-day deadline. So, if you cancel ProtonVPN after using it for 15 days, you will only receive a 50% refund — not a 100% refund like most every other competitor offers (like ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access). Regardless, in the grand scheme of things, you’re still not going to be charged a lot money.

ProtonVPN accepts credit cards, Paypal, Bitcoin, and cash. I actually really like that ProtonVPN accepts cash as a payment method, as it provides excellent privacy — plus, top competitors like ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and CyberGhost VPN don’t accept cash payments.

Overall, there are much cheaper VPN options than ProtonVPN on the market — for example CyberGhost VPN includes similar features, faster speeds, a 45-day 100% money-back guarantee, and is much cheaper. But if you’re looking for a VPN that places a heavy emphasis on security and privacy, ProtonVPN is a very good value.

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ProtonVPN Ease of Use: Mobile & Desktop Apps

ProtonVPN offers apps for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, and Android TVs, and Fire TVs. It also works on some routers. Downloading and installing ProtonVPN is very easy —  I added ProtonVPN onto my Android and iOS smartphones in about 1 minute, and it took less than 5 minutes to install the app on my Windows and Mac computers.

How to Install ProtonVPN (3 Quick & Easy Steps)

  • Step 1: Sign up for ProtonVPN. Pick a plan and create an account.
  • Step 2: Download and install its apps. Just follow ProtonVPN’s on-screen instructions.
  • Step 3: Open the ProtonVPN app. Connect to the fastest server in 1 click and start surfing the internet securely.

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Android

ProtonVPN Ease of Use: Mobile & Desktop Apps

ProtonVPN’s Android app is really good — it’s feature-rich, provides fast speeds, and is very easy to navigate.

I really like how easy and quick it is to find a fast ProtonVPN server. You can use the Quick Connect option (which automatically connects you to the fastest server) or manually choose a server — ProtonVPN indicates each server load percentage with either a green dot (low percentage), yellow dot (medium), or red dot (high). It’s easy to find P2P, Plus, and Tor servers by tapping on the drop-down button that lists all of the servers for each country.

You can also connect to a server using a map, but I don’t recommend this option for Android or iOS — it will take you extra time to find your desired connection point because you will need to zoom in on popular server locations (like Europe).

I really like the app’s “Profiles” option on the main screen. This is where you can create your own connection preferences — you can choose the country you want to connect to, automatically pick the “fastest” server or manually select a specific server, and enable Secure Core and Smart Protocol (which automatically switches you to a different protocol if the default protocol is blocked by a network such as an employer or university).

The kill switch isn’t supported within the ProtonVPN app for Android. Instead, you can enable the kill switch by tapping on the “Block connections without a VPN” option on your Android device (ProtonVPN gives you step-by-step instructions on how to do it in the Settings tab). Android also has an “Always-on” feature, which automatically reconnects you to the VPN if you get disconnected (this option is permanently enabled on iOS, but Android users need to manually turn it on).

Overall, I really like ProtonVPN’s Android app — it’s very easy to use, has excellent security features, and is easy to customize.

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iOS

ProtonVPN Ease of Use: Mobile & Desktop Apps

The ProtonVPN iOS app is nearly identical to the Android app. The biggest difference is the iOS app doesn’t have split-tunneling. However, most VPNs that have split-tunneling don’t support it on iOS and macOS (except ExpressVPN has split-tunneling for macOS versions 10.15 or under and Private Internet Access has split tunneling for all macOS versions). As I noted above, I really love how the iOS app has a kill switch.

ProtonVPN’s iOS app is as good as the Android app — it’s well-designed, user-friendly, and includes great security features.

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Windows/Mac (Desktop)

Like the Android and iOS apps, the Windows/Mac apps are very similar to one another.

You can connect to a ProtonVPN server with just one click by using the Quick Connect tool. When you connect to a server, it’s neat how ProtonVPN displays the steps your connection is taking as it’s happening — initializing a connection, authenticating the user, establishing VPN tunnel, and assigning you an IP. At the top of the window, ProtonVPN displays the name of your server (for example, United States > US-NJ#11), your IP address, the load percentage, and your protocol. At the bottom of the screen, ProtonVPN displays “Session Traffic” metrics to highlight your network usage and time.

ProtonVPN Ease of Use: Mobile & Desktop Apps

To manually connect to a server, scroll down the list of countries under the Countries tab (or you can select a country on the map). Like with the mobile apps, ProtonVPN lists the cities where each server is located and the load percentage is indicated by a green, yellow, or red circle. I appreciate how ProtonVPN keeps it simple to find special servers — the P2P servers are identified by arrows on top of one another pointed in opposite directions, and Tor servers have an onion icon next to them.

While the Windows and Mac apps include most of the same features, there are a couple of small differences. The Windows app only comes with OpenVPN and WireGuard, and the Mac app doesn’t have split-tunneling.

Overall, the Windows and Mac apps are full-featured, come with a lot of great customization tools, and are very user-friendly.

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Routers

You can manually set up ProtonVPN on a router, but only if it’s compatible with ProtonVPN’s service. Luckily, ProtonVPN supports a decent number of router models and firmware — some competitors (like TunnelBear) don’t even allow manual router setups.

Manually setting up a VPN connection on your router is usually difficult — luckily, ProtonVPN provides access to helpful step-by-step tutorials that are very easy to follow, so the setup process isn’t very time-consuming (in my case, it took less than 15 minutes to set up ProtonVPN on my router).

If you’re willing to pay extra, you can also get an InvizBox 2 router, which is an open-source router that’s tested and configured to easily connect to your ProtonVPN account. ProtonVPN claims it takes less time to set up the VPN connection using this router, and it also says you get more control over your VPN connection — for example, you can quickly change the VPN server’s location, the VPN server itself, and the VPN protocol (IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN over TCP, or OpenVPN over UDP) using dropdown menus inside the router’s dashboard.

But even so, I think ExpressVPN is a much better option if you want to use a VPN on your router because it’s one of the only VPNs to include a router app, which is significantly easier to set up (it only took me 8 minutes to do it) and use thanks to its intuitive interface — plus, the router app uses ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol, which is the fastest VPN protocol out there.

Overall, ProtonVPN supports manual setups on a decent number of router models and firmware and also provides helpful setup tutorials.

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ProtonVPN Apps: Is ProtonVPN Easy to Use?

Yes, ProtonVPN’s apps are really easy to use and full of features.

You get almost all features on all of ProtonVPN’s apps, with only a few exceptions — the iOS, macOS, and Linux apps don’t come with split-tunneling, the Linux app is missing the Profiles feature, the Windows app is missing the IKEv2/IPSec protocol, and the Linux app is missing the WireGuard and IKEv2/IPSec protocols.

But, other than that, all apps share a very similar design (so it’s really easy to switch between them) and work without any issues.

Android iOS Windows macOS Linux
Graphical User Interface (GUI)
Kill Switch
Protocols WireGuard, IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN (UDP and TCP) WireGuard, IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN (UDP and TCP) WireGuard, OpenVPN (UDP and TCP) WireGuard, IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN (UDP and TCP) OpenVPN (UDP and TCP)
Split-Tunneling
NetShield
Secure Core
VPN Accelerator
Profiles

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ProtonVPN Customer Support

ProtonVPN provides a thorough library of support guides and a support form, but there is no 24/7 live chat or a telephone contact number.

The support guides offer a good source of helpful information. They are separated into 6 different categories — Account, Download and setup, General Information, Access Content, Troubleshooting, and Speed and bandwidth. The guides are very thorough and answered most of my questions, and when I couldn’t find an answer under one of the categories, the search option provided me with a quick way to find a solution.

ProtonVPN Customer Support

ProtonVPN’s support form (which doubles as an email) is so-so. It took me over a day to receive a reply (most VPNs will respond in less than a day), but at least ProtonVPN made a genuine effort to answer all of my questions with detailed information.

However, I really want a live chat option. I like being able to contact an agent and work with them in real time to resolve my problem (competitors like ExpressVPN offer a live chat).

I contacted ProtonVPN via email to request my refund. It was hassle-free, and the money was added back onto my credit card in 5 days.

ProtonVPN’s customer support is not the best, but it’s decent. Not having 24/7 live chat is a big drawback, and I don’t like having to wait to get a response via email. That said, the email response I received was very helpful, and I think the support guides do a good job of answering the most important questions.

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Is ProtonVPN the Best VPN for Security and Privacy?

ProtonVPN is one of the best VPNS on the market. It provides great security features, is very easy to use, has really good speeds, works with top streaming services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu, supports P2P file sharing on dedicated servers, and allows up to 10 connections.

When it comes to security and privacy, it’s difficult to top ProtonVPN. It has standard security features like 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and fast and secure protocols, but ProtonVPN also includes extras like Secure Core (double VPN routing), NetShield (ad/tracking blocker), Tor over VPN, open-source apps that have been independently audited, and advanced features like perfect forward secrecy, full-disk encryption, and full leak protection. And ProtonVPN has a strict no-logs policy and is based in privacy-friendly Switzerland, which doesn’t have mandatory data-retention laws and is located outside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances.

In my speed tests, ProtonVPN was fast and provided really good connection speeds for browsing, streaming, torrenting, and gaming. Thanks to VPN Accelerator (increases VPN speeds), I was able to watch content in HD and without any interruptions even connected to distant locations — and websites took only 1-2 extra seconds to load.

But ProtonVPN isn’t perfect. I’m disappointed that ProtonVPN can’t bypass internet restrictions in countries like China. Also, it’s missing browser extension and a smart DNS, which would allow you to access streaming sites on devices that don’t support VPN apps. And I’d also like to see 24/7 live chat added to its customer support and a quicker response time with emails (ExpressVPN can be used in China and has 24/7 live chat).

All that said, ProtonVPN has the best free VPN plan out there, and all of its paid plans are backed by a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Is ProtonVPN safe?

Yes, ProtonVPN is very safe.

In fact, it’s one of the most secure VPNs on the market. In addition to industry-standard security features like 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and a strict no-logs policy, ProtonVPN includes extra features like Secure Core servers (double VPN routing), NetShield (an ad/tracking blocker), perfect forward secrecy (changes your encryption key after each session), and much more.

Is ProtonVPN free?

Yes, ProtonVPN has a free plan.

The free plan allows you to connect 1 device, offers “medium” speeds, and gives you access to 3 servers (located in the Netherlands, Japan, and the US). The best part about ProtonVPN’s free plan is that it doesn’t set a limit on your data. However, if you want access to streaming servers, torrenting servers, Tor over VPN, faster speed, and more connection locations, you’ll need to upgrade to one of ProtonVPN’s paid plans (which are all backed by a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee).

Does ProtonVPN work with Netflix?

Yes, ProtonVPN works with Netflix.

ProtonVPN is pretty fast, so I was able to watch Netflix content in HD quality and without interruptions. But it’s important to note that ProtonVPN only supports streaming on its premium plans — Netflix won’t work on the free servers.

Does ProtonVPN work on Android + iOS?

Yes, in fact, ProtonVPN has some of the best mobile VPN apps.

They both have an intuitive interface, 1-2 tap connections, fast speeds, and include WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 protocols.

The only drawback with the iOS app is it doesn’t have split-tunneling (most iOS VPNs don’t).

Is ProtonVPN good for torrenting?

Yes, ProtonVPN is actually one of the best P2P VPNs on the market — it allows torrenting on servers in 16+ countries, works with all the popular P2P clients, comes with port forwarding to help you increase your download speeds, and provides great security while torrenting via full leak protection, a kill switch, and an ad blocker.

That said, my favorite P2P VPN is ExpressVPN because it provides similar P2P features to ProtonVPN — the only differences are that its port forwarding is only available via its router app, and that it can’t block ads, only malicious sites. In addition, ExpressVPN has the fastest download speeds out there and allows torrenting on 3,000+ servers in 90+ countries, which is much more convenient.

Can ProtonVPN be used in China?

Unfortunately, no ProtonVPN lacks obfuscation tools that hide VPN traffic, which would allow it to work in China.

If you need a secure VPN that works in restrictive countries like China, I recommend ExpressVPN — it provides obfuscation across all 3,000+ of its servers, which allows it to consistently work in China.

Can ProtonVPN be installed on a Fire Stick?

Yes, as ProtonVPN has a dedicated Fire TV app that you can download and install from the app store. ProtonVPN’s Fire Stick app is really intuitive and simple to navigate with a remote, comes with NetShield (blocks ads and malicious sites), and is also open-source — its code has been independently audited and proven to be safe.

Does ProtonVPN slow down your speeds?

All VPNs slow down your speeds due to the encryption-decryption process and how long it takes for data to travel between your device and the VPN server. That said, ProtonVPN minimizes the speed loss (so that it’s not noticeable) thanks to its speed-optimized servers, fast protocols, and VPN Accelerator, which uses speed-enhancing technologies to increase your VPN speeds across all servers.

But despite all of that, ProtonVPN still isn’t as fast as ExpressVPN, which is currently the fastest VPN in 2022 thanks to its proprietary protocol called Lightway (which has lightning-fast speeds, is open-source, and provides excellent security).

ProtonVPN Products & Pricing

ProtonVPN Free
$0.00 / month
ProtonVPN Plus 1-month
$9.99 / month
30 Days Money Back
ProtonVPN Plus 2-year
$4.99 / month
30 Days Money Back
Bottom Line

ProtonVPN is easy to use, fast, and comes with really good privacy features. It has all of the essentials (no-logs, kill switch, etc.), plus it uses advanced features like perfect forward secrecy, full-disk encryption, and full leak protection. What’s more, all of its apps are open-source, and it provides extras like VPN Accelerator, an ad blocker, and Tor over VPN. ProtonVPN works with popular streaming sites and supports torrenting, but it isn’t the best choice for bypassing internet restrictions in censor-heavy countries like China and there are no browser extensions. Overall, ProtonVPN is one of the best VPNs out there, and all plans come with a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.

About the Author

Eric Goldstein
Eric Goldstein
Senior Editor

About the Author

Eric Goldstein is an internet security researcher and IT journalist. He provides updates on the latest trends in cybersecurity so readers can have a safe and secure online experience. In his spare time, he enjoys working out, relaxing on a beach with his family, and playing with his dog.

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