ProtonVPN test and review
ProtonVPN is a relatively new brand in the world of cyber security. Their first product was an encrypted e-mail box, advertised as the safest form of Internet communication. This product was very warmly welcomed by its users and the company started further expansion, starting with its own VPN product. How does ProtonVPN compare to the competition and what are the speeds it offers? We invite you to read the review prepared by us.
How safe is ProtonVPN?
For every VPN, safety is paramount. After all, what is the sense of complicating one’s life and losing speed if someone can still follow our online activities? ProtonVPN is a service offered by Proton Technologies AG, registered in Switzerland, which is famous for having privacy protection laws. Neither the European Union nor the USA has direct jurisdiction over Switzerland. All entrepreneurs who have decided to move their bank accounts there know very well about the confidentiality of companies in this country and the policy of not asking unnecessary questions. ProtonVPN clearly emphasizes its attachment to Swiss traditions, ensuring that the service was created to protect the privacy and freedom of journalists and activists who use ProtonMail, and to fight against Internet censorship.
The Perfect ForwardSecrecy protocol is used to encrypt connections, and the company doesn’t collect or store any user logs. All connections established via ProtonVPN, first pass through special SecureCore servers, physically located in the former Swiss army shelter, which is 1000 meters below the surface. This provides unparalleled security, preventing unauthorized access to your connection. Another feature for those who pay special attention to their safety is cascading VPN connections through the TOR network, which additionally enables access to dark net and use of .onion websites.
What can ProtonVPN be used for?
By using the services of a Swiss IT company, we can enjoy unlimited freedom of movement on the Internet. We won’t be afraid of geolocation and any regional blockades. According to the company’s assurances, by connecting to ProtonVPN Plus servers, we will be able to enjoy the services of the Netflix platform from anywhere in the world, choosing one of the regions we’re interested in. What’s more, by connecting to SecureCore servers, we become completely anonymous, so Internet trackers and cookies won’t be able to track us, which makes blocking ads easier. Using ProtonVPN, we will also bypass regionally blocked content on the popular YouTube website.
How much does ProtonVPN cost?
ProtonVPN offers an overwhelming number of plans with different functionalities, which are associated with different kinds of discounts, depending on the subscription period. If we decide on annual commitment, we can count on 20% discount. In the case of a two-year plan, this discount will increase to 34%. ProtonVPN offers 4 levels of subscriptions (including one completely free of charge), which allow to adjust the offer to your individual needs.
Free plan gives us possibility to use servers located in 3 countries on one device. The hook is in low speed VPN, caused by lower priority over paying users, so we should treat it more like a trial version of the service. So let’s look at the prices for the annual plan.
Deciding on the “Basic” package (cost 4 euros per month), we can count on access to servers in all countries (including special P2P servers) – on two devices simultaneously. Our connection will be made at the maximum available speed. Plan “Plus” (costing 8 euros per month), offers us full functionality together with Plus Servers (designed to watch Netflix), SecureCore and Tor over VPN servers. In this plan, we can use the VPN tunnel on 5 devices simultaneously. The last subscription level is Proton Visionary costing as much as 24 euros per month. However, it’s an offer addressed to extremely demanding users, offering in a package a mailbox with unlimited transfer of 20 GB of space in the cloud and 10 domains. Therefore, for the purposes of this review, we will skip this plan.
Specialist ProtonVPN servers; under a warm coat of anonymity
The Swiss company boasts of having a number of specialized servers, tailored to meet all the needs of its customers. Below, we will try to bring them closer:
- SecureCore – all the network traffic carried out by ProtonVPN passes through them. They’re located in heavily protected data centers in a former Swiss military shelter, outside the EU and US jurisdiction,
- Tor over VPN servers – thanks to them the connection goes additionally through the TOR protocol – strengthening the security. It will also allow us to access darkweb pages with the .onion extension,
- Plus Servers – designed for Internet streaming, especially Netflixie. They will also come to our aid while using YouTube, allowing us to avoid cumbersome geolocation,
- P2P – their parameters are specially selected to use the torrent network. They offer unlimited transfer and speed, allowing you to quickly download and seed files.
What download speed can we count on when using ProtonVPN?
Falling download speeds are inherent to VPN technology. Companies offering their services in this industry deal with it differently. So how does ProtonVPN compare to them?
In a control test, the download speed achieved without an active VPN tunnel was 154 Mbps, the upload speed was 152 Mbps and the ping speed was 1 ms.
The automatic ProtonVPN server selection function connected us to a Polish server. The achieved speeds were 145 Mbps download and 139 Mbps upload respectively. The delay is about 6 ms. In our opinion, the above results guarantee trouble-free use of the Internet with an active VPN tunnel.
The quality of the American location isn’t impressive. Yes, ProtonVPN has one of the lower pings achieved in our US tests, namely 102 ms, but the download speed is only 77 Mbps and 142 Mbps for upload speed. It could have been better.
After selecting a server located in the UK, the download speed was only 62 Mbps and 133 Mbps for upload, and the ping was 31 ms. This is a very disappointing result, although it still enables FullHD streaming, which is quite important for most users.
The German ProtonVPN server, proved to be even worse than the British one. Download speed was 57 Mbps, upload speed was 131 Mbps and ping speed was 28 ms. In this field, ProtonVPN is losing a lot to other top VPN services.
We were very disappointed with the speed of connection with ProtonVPN. While the upload speed was slightly slower, the download speed drop is even gigantic. The Swiss company still has a lot of work to do in order to compete more effectively with its competitors. The only thing ProtonVPN can be praised for is its low ping.
By subscribing to ProtonVPN, we can use applications prepared for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, routers and Linux. The application has a modern design, inspired by military technology and is easy to use. We can use it to automatically connect to the network in the best possible location or manually select the server that interests us.
The ProtonVPN clearly stands out from its competitors if we take the speeds achieved in the workshop. Although Proton Technologies AG explains this with a high level of security, it doesn’t change the fact that the average Internet user pays more attention to the speed and stability of the connection. The noncommittal trial period is unfortunately a “delicacy” that ProtonVPN ultimately chose not to provide. To sum up, it’s only when ProtonVPN improves speed problems that we will raise our recommendations for this promising product with a clear conscience.
Read also how to choose the right VPN for your needs.