Tests were carried out to ensure there were no DNS leaks before connecting to the VPN and while connected to the VPN. In both tests there were no DNS leaks identified, which aligns to the information provided on ProtonVPN’s website. This was also confirmed by performing a number of DNS lookups using the same Google DNS server while inside and outside the VPN. ProtonVPN have a large number of VPN servers located in 55 countries around the world with a number of ‘secure core’ servers located in countries that have strong privacy laws, and because of this there is very little information about the hardware used but they have high speed connections up to 10Gbps.
When connected to the VPN, the default protocol used is OpenVPN with the option of IPSec as well. When connected to the VPN, the download speed to a speedtest.net server located in the same city as the VPN endpoint was 66% slower than not connected to the VPN, and the upload speed was 65% slower via the VPN. This drop in speed could be due to the fact that all traffic routes via the ProtonVPN secure servers.
Interestingly, speed tests to servers that were geographically further away from the VPN endpoint, the upload speeds were faster than download speeds by 193-250%, whereas typically download speeds are faster than upload. This could be due to the VPN accelerator feature that is built into the software that can “increase your VPN speeds by over 400%” but there is no way to turn the feature off to verify the claims.
Another interesting point that was noticed during the speeds using a VPN endpoint located in Sydney is that the public IP address assigned to the VPN connection was not the same IP that was showing up in the speed test window, this would indicate that the VPN was being re-routing and presented elsewhere on the internet which was concerning as it was an unknown location.
For an end user, watching videos on YouTube was impressive up to 4K resolution but there was some buffering at 8K for between 3-5 seconds. What was disappointing is that, for some servers, when trying to play a film on Netflix, Netflix was able to identify the VPN and showed an error message to inform the user that to continue watching the VPN had to be disconnected with no ability to skip the error message, and although ProtonVPN mention on their website they have P2P support, there is no mention of supporting streaming services.
Overall, from an end user perspective the ProtonVPN provides satisfactory performance results for users who want a good level of security and anonymity.