ProtonVPN 2020
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ProtonVPN Review

How good is ProtonVPN? Review 2020

Michael Benninger

by Michael Benninger
Columnist for IT Security

digitalwelt logo

After finding success as the provider of a secure email service called ProtonMail, the Swiss company Proton Technologies expanded its offerings with a high-speed VPN service. But is ProtonVPN good enough to meet your needs? Let’s take a look.

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Proton VPN
Proton VPN
Review 4.7
from $8

ProtonVPN Software Overview

  • Easy setup and intuitive interface
  • Free plan for single devices
  • Premium plans include faster servers in more locations
  • Nearly 700 servers in more than 40 countries
  • Uses OpenVPN (UDP/TCP) and IKEv2 with AES-256 encryption
  • Tor over VPN is available with paid plans
  • Based in Switzerland and operates under Swiss privacy laws
  • Available for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux
  • Free seven-day premium trial

Top VPN Tools | Updated: November 2020

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1 CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost VPN
Review 5.0
from $2.75
The once-in-a-lifetime VPN software CyberGhost is one of the most well-known and fastest on the market. It is also known as the VPN software with the best connectivity to streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO and many more.
2 NordVPN
NordVPN
Review 4.9
from $3.49
NordVPN is the unbeatable #1 VPN software on the market. The company from Panama uses their local legal situation that no data has to be stored by law. They are so confident in the quality of their software that they even offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
3 ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN
Review 4.9
from $8.32
ExpressVPN is officially government-proof: A recent incident lead to the fact that some of the ExpressVPN servers were seized by the government, and the investigation had to come to hard stop, after intelligence officers realized that there was no data on the servers.

Introduction to ProtonVPN

Among all the VPN providers in today’s marketplace, ProtonVPN is consistently one of the most popular and highest rated. The service is actually an offshoot of ProtonMail, a provider of encrypted email founded in 2013 by researchers at the European research organization, CERN. ProtonVPN initially launched in June 2017, and in January 2020 it became the first VPN to release its source code and open the company up to an independent audit. As of this writing, it remains the only VPN to have taken such a bold step.

How Safe is ProtonVPN?

Security is one of the first things people want to know about when researching VPNs. So is ProtonVPN safe? Absolutely. ProtonVPN is widely considered one of the safest VPNs on the market. The installer doesn’t contain any suspicious code and any communications through the service itself isn’t vulnerable to outside threats. ProtonVPN also prides itself on upholding exceptionally high standards when it comes to the physical security of its servers.

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Proton VPN
Proton VPN
Review 4.7
from $8

How to Use ProtonVPN

Getting up and running with ProtonVPN is simple and straightforward. Here’s an overview of how to use ProtonVPN no matter which operating system you use.

  • Start by visiting ProtonVPN’s website and clicking or tapping on “Get ProtonVPN Now”
  • You’ll then be prompted to select a plan and sign up for a ProtonVPN account.
  • After creating your account, download the version of ProtonVPN for your operating system.
  • Install the software and log in using the username and password you created.
  • Follow the prompts in ProtonVPN’s onboarding process to learn how to navigate the interface.
  • Once you’ve familiarized yourself with ProtonVPN’s interface, tweak the settings to your liking.

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Features Unique to ProtonVPN

As far as features are concerned, ProtonVPN includes several types of technology to increase your security online. The user interface is clean, well organized, and easy to navigate, and the map view is especially helpful. ProtonVPN also offers a built-in kill switch that automatically blocks all traffic if your connection fails at any time.

When it comes to security, ProtonVPN encrypts network traffic with AES-256, conducts key exchange 4096-bit RSA, and uses HMAC with SHA384 to authenticate messages. Chief among ProtonVPN’s security features, however, is its exclusive Secure Core connections for subscribers of the company’s Plus and Visionary plans.

ProntonVPN SecureCore

So what is ProtonVPN Secure Core? Essentially, it’s a paid feature that gives subscribers a direct connection to servers in the company’s hardened data centers, which are protected by stringent privacy laws. Secure Core can give you added peace of mind by routing your connection through several servers and further protecting you from network-based attacks.

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Proton VPN
Proton VPN
Review 4.7
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ProtonVPN Pricing

VPN Review

4.9 out of 5

Despite the many advantages offered by ProtonVPN, pricing is one aspect that sticks in some people’s craws. Here’s a quick breakdown of what each tier costs and what it includes.

  • Free ($0/month)
    Access a medium-speed VPN in one of three countries from one device.
  • Basic: $8
    Access a high-speed VPN and P2P connections in all countries using up to two devices.
  • Plus: $8
    Access a high-speed VPN and P2P connections in all countries using up to five devices. Plus also includes ProtonVPN’s Secure Core and allows access to Tor servers and secure streaming.
  • Visionary: $24
    Includes everything from the Plus plan but allows connects from up to 10 devices, not five. This tier also includes access to the top-tier Visionary plan for ProtonMail.

ProtonVPN Speed Review

VPN Review

4.3 out of 5

In the tests we conducted during our week long trial of ProtonVPN Plus, the VPN speeds were among the fastest we’ve seen, making it easy to stream videos and transfer large files. It’s important to note, though, that there was a noticeable drop in speed when we conducted the same tests with the Secure Core feature turned on.

ProtonVPN Server Information

VPN Review

4.3 out of 5

VPNs are only as good as their servers, and ProtonVPN has plenty of them. At the time of writing this ProtonVPN review, the company has 713 servers in 43 countries. Not all of these servers are available to all ProtonVPN customers, however. Subscribers on the free plan are limited to accessing servers in just three countries — the United States, Netherlands, and Japan. Once you upgrade to any of the paid plans, though, you’ll have access to servers all over the world.

ProtonVPN Reliability & Downtime

VPN Review

4.8 out of 5

During our week of testing ProtonVPN, we didn’t experience any significant issues with reliability or downtime. Occasionally, switching between servers took several seconds, but for the most part, we were able to route our traffic around the world without any complications or delays.

Technical Support & Customer Support

VPN Review

4.7 out of 5

ProtonVPN has an expansive knowledge base section on their website that includes guidance about how to resolve several technical issues. The company doesn’t offer live chat support, though its email-based support should prove satisfactory for most customers.

One common problem many Windows users with ProtonVPN experience is a TAP driver error. If you’re facing this issue, try reinstalling the ProtonVPN tap adapter and making sure your version of Windows is up to date and has the latest security updates installed. After that, simply reboot your PC.

Compatibility with Streaming Services

VPN Review

4.5 out of 5

It’s no secret that many people use VPNs to access streaming services they otherwise wouldn’t have access to due to their location. Fortunately, you can use ProtonVPN to access a variety of streaming platforms, including Netflix (U.S., UK, and Germany), Amazon Prime Video (U.S. and U.K.), HBO Now, Hulu, ESPN+, and Disney+.

If you plan on using ProtonVPN with Netflix or other services, it’s important to note that ProtonVPN doesn’t offer any support for Apple TV, Android TV, or Amazon’s line of Fire Sticks and Fire TVs. That’s not to say there aren’t workarounds (there are), but there’s no officially supported version of ProtonVPN for these devices.

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Proton VPN
Proton VPN
Review 4.7
from $8

What About ProtonVPN for Chromebooks?

If you own a Chromebook and are thinking about signing up for ProtonVPN, there’s something you should know. Unlike many other VPN providers, ProtonVPN doesn’t offer official browser extensions. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t use ProtonVPN on your Chromebooks, but owners of older Chromebooks might be out of luck.

In order to run ProtonVPN on a Chromebook, your Chromebook must run Android and/or Linux. Most modern Chromebooks run both of these operating systems alongside Chrome OS, but you may have to enable them in the settings. Once Android is enabled, launch the Google Play Store and search for ProtonVPN to download and install the app. (Alternatively, you can download the ProtonVPN APK from APKMirror or a similar site.) Only experts should attempt to install the Linux version of ProtonVPN, as there is no graphical interface and all settings are configured from the command line.

ProtonVPN for Torrenting

Aside from streaming video, torrenting is another of the most common uses of VPNs. If torrenting is a priority for you, rest assured that ProtonVPN makes it easy to securely and privately download the files you want. However, not all ProtoVPN users can take advantage of P2P file sharing via BitTorrent. Only subscribers to the Plus and Visionary tiers will have access to ProtonVPN torrenting.

NordVPN vs ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN is commonly compared to NordVPN, and although the two VPNs are both reputable and highly reviewed, they aren’t exactly on par with each other as far as features are concerned. Here’s a closer look at NordVPN vs ProtonVPN.

  • Both NordVPN and ProtonVPN work on a variety of platforms and have intuitive interfaces.
  • NordVPN currently has considerably more servers in more places compared to ProtonVPN.
  • ProtonVPN’s paid plans are significantly more expensive than NordVPNs plans.
  • NordVPN doesn’t offer a free tier — all users of this VPN are required to have paid plans.
  • ProtonVPN doesn’t offer browser extensions, while NordVPN does.

Is ProtonVPN Good? Conclusion & Closing Thoughts

If you’re in the market for a reliable and trustworthy VPN, ProtonVPN is one of the best. It’s not the cheapest VPN available, and the free tier is relatively limited compared to some other VPNs, so depending on your budget, you may wish to explore your options. If you’re willing to pay for it, though, ProtonVPN is well worth the cost.

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Proton VPN
Proton VPN
Review 4.7
from $8


Michael Benninger

by Michael Benninger
Columnist for IT Security

digitalwelt logo

Michael Benninger is a writer, editor, and IT journalist specializing in internet privacy and security. Michael has been writing about all areas of consumer technology for more than 15 years and continues to cover the latest advancements in mobile and personal computing.


Top VPN Tools | Updated: November 2020

Advertisement: Sponsored Listings
1 CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost VPN
Review 5.0
from $2.75
The once-in-a-lifetime VPN software CyberGhost is one of the most well-known and fastest on the market. It is also known as the VPN software with the best connectivity to streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO and many more.
2 NordVPN
NordVPN
Review 4.9
from $3.49
NordVPN is the unbeatable #1 VPN software on the market. The company from Panama uses their local legal situation that no data has to be stored by law. They are so confident in the quality of their software that they even offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
3 ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN
Review 4.9
from $8.32
ExpressVPN is officially government-proof: A recent incident lead to the fact that some of the ExpressVPN servers were seized by the government, and the investigation had to come to hard stop, after intelligence officers realized that there was no data on the servers.
4 RUSVPN
RUSVPN
Review 4.8
from $2.99
Among a sea of VPN provider, RUSVPN emerged offering a reliable, unlimited, and incredibly cheap VPN service that is totally secure. Compatible with most devices and with a network that covers 5 continents, is RUSVPN the best choice for you? We took a closer look.
5 TunnelBear VPN
TunnelBear VPN
Review 4.8
from $4.17
Started in Canada in 2011, TunnelBear stands out amid a sea of serious VPNs with a fun & easy to use interface, free tiered options, and the ability to pay with Bitcoin.
6 Proton VPN
Proton VPN
Review 4.7
from $8
The Swiss company Proton Technologies was already famous for its software ProtonMail. The more reason to have a closer look to to their new flagship ProtonVPN that suddenly began to win over lots of new fans in 2020.
7 IPVanish VPN
IPVanish VPN
Review 4.7
from $6.49
IPVanish VPN is one of the rare VPN tools that are in fact made in the U.S.A. It's owned by an IT company located in Seattle which makes this software one of the most advanced and reliable in the industry.
8 Surfshark VPN
Surfshark VPN
Review 4.7
from $2.49
Surfshark VPN is one of the most affordable VPN tools in 2020. At the same time, the VPN tool offers one of the most diverse technologies in the VPN market. We have tested one of the best VPN tool newcomers in November 2020.
9 Hide My Ass VPN
Hide My Ass VPN
Review 4.6
from $3.99
What few people know: Hide My Ass is one of the best VPN providers on the market from the company AVG - the largest manufacturer of antivirus software. No wonder their VPN software is of such high quality.
10 vypr vpn
vypr vpn
Review 4.6
from $2.50
Vypr VPN is one of the companies based in Switzerland, where users have high expectations in terms of data protection and privacy. In addition, Vypr VPN was initially created for one purpose only: To outsmart the NSA's surveillance program called Room 641A. Curious, yet?
11 Avast SecureLine VPN
Avast SecureLine VPN
Review 4.6
from $4.99
SecureLine VPN from the renowned manufacturer Avast is one of the oldest manufacturers of security software and one of the largest security companies in the world. They've been around since 1988, so it's no surprise they offer one of the best VPN's on the market.
12 Avira Phantom VPN
Avira Phantom VPN
Review 4.5
from $7.00
The German manufacturer Avira knows how to best meet user demand for data protection and anonymity. It's hardly surprising since Avira is one of the oldest software companies for data security on the market.
13 ZenMate VPN
ZenMate VPN
Review 4.5
from $2.22
Since launching in 2013, there are now over 47 million people worldwide that use ZenMate VPN, and their Google Chrome extension is the #1 VPN extension in the Chrome Web Store.
14 Pure VPN
Pure VPN
Review 4.5
from $3.33
Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Hong Kong, PureVPN is a virtual private network (VPN) provider owned and operated by GZ Systems Ltd., a company that develops Android apps.
15 Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield
Review 4.5
from $2.99
Among the longest-standing VPNs on the market, Hotspot Shield was created in 2005 by a privacy and security company called Anchorfree until 2019 when the company became part of Pango, a new privacy and security company that also owns 1Password and other privacy-focused apps.
16 VPN Unlimited
VPN Unlimited
Review 4.5
from $2.22
VPN Unlimited may not be a household name, but this affordable VPN service might be a good fit for you — if you can overlook the company’s questionable privacy policy.
17 hide.me VPN
hide.me VPN
Review 4.5
from $4.99
hide.me has been helping users mask their internet activity since 2011 and is a speedy & secure VPN provider that ticks all the boxes for most power users.

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