The best VPN services secure your connection to public networks, provide an added layer of privacy, bypass geo-locked content, prevent bandwidth throttling and give you access to region-based e-commerce deals. One popular VPN service on the market today is Proton. This Proton VPN review looks at its features, plans, advantages and disadvantages to help you decide if it’s worth installing on your device(s).
Best free VPN subscription plan
Proton VPN is a freemium VPN service, meaning that it has both free and premium plans. The paid version subsidizes the free version. According to Proton, you can use its free version without any catches. The company doesn’t serve ads or collect and sell your browsing data if you use the free Proton VPN.
The Swiss-based company started out with ProtonMail, an encrypted email service meant to protect journalists and activists, before rolling out Proton VPN. Today, it has thousands of VPN servers across the globe, several of which provide free VPN connections.
Proton VPN pros and cons
- Great security features
- No-logs policy
- Few free servers
- Multi-platform support
- Poor customer satisfaction ratings
- Free plan supports only one device
- Fast speeds
Great security features
Proton VPN sends your traffic through encrypted VPN tunnels, ensuring that your personal data (like passwords and browsing history) remains safe even when you’re using public internet connections. The company passes user traffic through a Secure Core network in countries like Switzerland and Iceland, where privacy laws allow VPNs to hide user data fully.
Additionally, Proton VPN uses ciphers that employ Perfect Forward Secrecy, a technology that ensures encrypted data can’t be captured and decrypted later. The VPN comes equipped with NetShield, an ad blocker that protects your device against unwanted ads, malware and website trackers. Other Proton VPN security features include:
- DNS leak protection: A DNS leak occurs when your DNS requests are revealed to your internet service provider (ISP) despite having a VPN. Proton VPN prevents this from happening.
- Kill switch: Automatically stops your device from accessing the internet when your VPN connection drops. This prevents your IP address and browsing data from leaking.
- Always-on: Automatically reconnects your device to Proton VPN if the connection is interrupted. This ensures that your connection is always secure.
Proton VPN doesn’t log your internet activity or share your online data with third parties. This is important because a VPN that tracks your activity cannot guarantee your privacy.
Proton also masks your IP address to keep your browsing private and anonymous. The VPN allows you to use IP addresses of other countries, helping you access geo-blocked content. This can include regional e-commerce deals or country-specific media services like Netflix shows.
Proton VPN uses a VPN Accelerator, which, according to Proton, speeds up your VPN connection by up to 400%. This, combined with the 10 Gbps server network that you get with Proton VPN, keeps your connection fast, secure and stable.
Proton VPN is compatible with all major operating systems, including Windows, MacOS and Linux. It also works on various types of devices, such as computers, mobile devices and routers. Proton VPN TV comes with an Android TV app that you can use on your Android television set.
Poor customer satisfaction ratings
Proton VPN has poor average ratings on online review platforms. Common customer complaints include low browsing speeds and long customer service response times.
Free plan supports only one device
Proton’s free plan supports only one simultaneously-connected device. You would need to sign up for the paid plan, which supports up to ten simultaneous connections, to use the Proton VPN client on multiple devices at once.
Few free servers
Out of its 2,979 servers in 68 countries, Proton only allows its free version users to connect to around 100 servers in three countries. This tends to overload the provider’s servers. Proton acknowledges that your internet connection may slow down when using its free VPN service, even though it has unlimited data and bandwidth.
Proton VPN plans
Proton VPN offers three plans: Proton Free, Proton VPN and Proton Unlimited.
Proton Free lets you connect a single device to VPN servers in one of three countries: the Netherlands, the U.S. and Japan. The free plan comes with the same security features as paid plans, including data encryption, IP masking, a strict no-logs policy, a kill switch and the stealth VPN protocol.
Proton VPN doesn’t apply data, speed, duration or bandwidth limits on its free plan. In addition to a free VPN, Proton also offer the following services:
- Free Proton Drive: This is an encrypted cloud service that provides 1GB of storage.
- Free Proton Pass: This cloud-based password manager uses Proton’s security infrastructure.
- Three Proton calendars: These are personal calendars that use end-to-end encryption to secure your events.
- One email address: This private email service uses end-to-end encryption. However, you can’t create a custom email domain with the free plan.
Free Proton VPN is available for all major devices and operating systems, including Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android and Chromebook.
The paid version of Proton VPN grants access to 2,979 servers across 68 countries. This allows you to route your traffic through many different countries, enabling access to their online media content and e-commerce deals. The paid plan supports up to 10 devices connected at the same time with unlimited data and bandwidth.
On top of all the security measures that come with Proton Free, the paid plan also includes the following features:
- Higher VPN connection speeds
- NetShield ad blocker
- P2P data sharing (like torrenting)
- Tor over VPN
- Router support
- Split tunneling
Proton Unlimited stands out from the other two plans because of its extra features. The plan combines the paid versions of Proton VPN, Proton Calendar, Proton Pass and Proton Drive. Some of its standout features include:
- Up to 500 GB of Proton Drive storage
- Up to 15 email addresses with three custom email domains
- 25 personal Proton Calendars with unlimited folders, labels and filters
- Contact groups
- Priority customer support
Proton VPN pricing
The paid version of Proton VPN costs $11.49 per month for a one-month plan, $5.99 per month for a one-year plan ($71.88 upfront) and $4.99 per month for a two-year plan ($119.76 upfront).
Proton Unlimited costs $12.99 per month for a one-month plan, $9.99 per month for a one-year plan ($119.88 upfront) and $7.99 per month for a two-year plan ($191.76 upfront).
All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Proton VPN costs less than many other equally popular VPN service providers, including ExpressVPN, NordVPN and PureVPN.
Proton VPN financial stability
Proton AG has not been rated by major financial rating agencies like AM Best and Standard and Poor’s. However, the company is supported by FONGIT, a Swiss-based innovation hub that’s financed by the country’s Federal Commission for Technology and Innovation.
Proton also gets funding from the European Commission. As such, the VPN provider calls itself the “world’s only community-supported VPN service.”
Proton VPN accessibility
Proton VPN’s website lets users create an account, choose a VPN plan and make a payment for it. It boasts easy-to-navigate menus and a resource section complete with an educational blog.
The website clearly directs users to Proton VPN for Mac, for PC and for Linux, as well as to the Proton VPN Android and Proton VPN iOS applications. It also provides links to the Proton VPN browser extensions for Chrome and for Firefox.
Proton VPN has servers in 68 countries across the world. This means you can reroute your traffic through any of these countries (as a paid user) and mask your IP so that it appears like you’re accessing the internet as a local citizen. However, keep in mind that Proton VPN doesn’t work in China, and its website is blocked in the country.
Proton VPN doesn’t provide a phone number on its website. You can reach customer support via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The company has a support form and live chat function on its website. It also provides links to its social media accounts.
The Proton VPN website and interface are simple and intuitive. The website provides a guide on installing and using the VPN on your device based on its operating system.
Proton VPN customer satisfaction
Proton VPN has poor ratings on online customer review sites. Many users complain that its team takes too long to respond to customer complaints. Additionally, users have reported that connecting to Proton VPN significantly slowed their internet connection. Some reviews even say that this happens after your trial period has expired, and you’re locked into a paid plan.
Proton VPN FAQ
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How we evaluated Proton VPN
To effectively evaluate Proton VPN, we looked at the following factors:
- Security measures
- Connection speed
- Range of plans
- Customer support
- Customer reviews
Summary of Money's Proton VPN review
Do you need a VPN to stay safe online? A VPN can help you browse the internet securely and privately. Out of the many VPN providers available on the market, Proton VPN stands out because it offers a reliable free plan.
The free version of Proton VPN is subsidized by the company’s paid services. For this reason, it doesn’t need to collect and sell user data to sustain its free users.
That said, Proton VPN does have a few drawbacks. The free version of Proton VPN offers only 65 servers, which may lead them to overload with users and slow down connections overall. It also has poor customer ratings on online platforms. If you can afford to subscribe to a paid plan, you will get access to Proton's network of over 2,900 servers across 68 countries and to priority support and live chat.