ProtonVPN Review 2021: Free & Paid Plans, Performance, Safety & More | VPN Review by Industry Experts

by
Frederik Lipfert
Dr. Frederik Lipfert Founder, vpncheck
Updated on 9 Oct 2021
Frederik is a serial entrepreneur that jumped into entrepreneurship after earning his doctorate in physics. Founding and running an analytics company got him into the online privacy and security space he's now contributing to with vpncheck. Read full bio

Expert Contributions

Adrian Sproule
Adrian Sproule Network Engineer
Barbara Niveyro
Barbara Niveyro User Interface Designer
Alla Robert Aristakesyan
Alla Robert Aristakesyan Business Consultant
Tamara Milacic
Tamara Milacic Pricing Expert
ProtonVPN – A Rock-Solid VPN With the Protection of Swiss Privacy Laws

In this review, we will not only look at ProtonVPN’s immense amount of features and security measures, but we’ve also included the opinions of VPNcheck’s resident experts on this relative newcomer to the world of VPNs.

ProtonVPN actually stemmed from ProtonMail, an email service founded in 2014, but the official release of the VPN didn’t come until 2017. This service lures a lot of people in with their free plan. Who doesn’t like free stuff, right? However, to get the most out of it, you definitely need to upgrade to a paid plan.

We decided to sign up and check out all the features ourselves. Below we will walk you through everything from web browsing and reliability to the speed and overall performance of ProtonVPN for a variety of use cases.

TL;DR? ProtonVPN Review - The Short Version

  • Streaming capability – ProtonVPN certainly has the speed for high-quality streaming. However, you need at least their Plus plan to use Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and other streaming services.
  • Security – ProtonVPN uses the highest level of AES encryption available, tunneling with AES-256 encryption and 4096-bit RSA key exchange. 
  • Privacy – All of the membership plans offer a strict no-logs policy for your peace of mind. There is also the benefit of Private DNS, Kill-switch, and Tor over VPN support to protect your IP address. The servers use full disk encryption, so any seized or compromised server is inaccessible.
  • Pricing – The free membership plan is definitely a magnet for a lot of people, but a paid membership is your best bet to get the best out of this network. A paid ProtonVPN subscription will unlock higher speeds and far more features. There are flexible plans, but this isn’t the cheapest VPN, especially if you want to unlock all of its impressive features.
  • Apps and extensions – ProtonVPN has VPN client apps and extensions for various platforms, including mobile devices. The interface is so simple that even your grandma can get it up and running quickly.
  • Customer support – There is a large knowledgebase for you to draw from, but there’s no Live Chat feature or an easy way to connect to a human instantly. You need to use the ProtonVPN support ticket system for any queries.

Network Performance: How ProtonVPN Stacks Up

Nobody wants to spend their hard-earned cash on a membership to a VPN and then discover that it will only connect at a snail’s pace or struggle to even load a simple video. 

How does ProtonVPN stack up when it comes to performance? A trend seems to be emerging. To get the big features, you have to part with the big bucks. Streaming is limited to Plus or Visionary plans.

Adrian Sproule shares his expert opinion on the performance of ProtonVPN here:

Our Expert Review and Rating of ProtonVPN’s Network Performance

7

Streaming

A modern VPN should make it easy to access streaming services restricted to certain locations and view the catalogs offered in other parts of the world. For instance, you can only access Hulu from the United States while Netflix implements geoblocking measures.

ProtonVPN and Netflix

Tested using the Plus membership of ProtonVPN, Netflix connected and played with ease and with plenty of speed. However, this feature is not available in the Free or Basic plans.

You also need to connect to a Plus server. And even if you have a Plus membership, connecting to a server that will not allow you to access Netflix or other streaming services can happen. ProtonVPN’s guide to unblocking Netflix ensures you don’t get geoblocked. 

By default, if you use ProtonVPN to watch Netflix, you will access the United States Netflix catalog. However, you can also access the regional versions of Netflix in the UK, France, Australia, and other countries using Plus servers in those locations.

The screenshot below shows us accessing US Netflix from the UK.

Netflix US home page features the tv show Money Heist as no. 3 in the US today

Hulu

We were able to access Hulu using a US-based Plus server. It was easy to connect to a choice of over 200 PLUS servers. If you’re outside of the States, ProtonVPN can help you to view your favorite shows. Just select from a Plus server in the United States.

ProtonVPN Plus Servers showing 234 available US servers

Amazon Prime Video

The Amazon Prime Video streaming also needs you to connect to a Plus server in the location you want to access. Be aware that you may get a notification to watch the service in the country of your registered address. You may even need a separate account for each country to get around this.

You can access the Australian, Canadian, French, German, Indian, Italian, Swiss, UK, and US versions of Amazon Prime Video. See ProtonVPN’s complete guide to connecting to Prime Video: How to Safely Watch Prime Video With ProtonVPN

BBC iPlayer

Connecting via a UK server, BBC iPlayer connected with no issues and detected our location as London, UK. The video we chose played without issues whatsoever.

An episode of Redemption playing on BBC iPlayer via a masked London IP of ProtonVPN

DAZN

DAZN offers different sports shows depending on your location. With ProtonVPN, you can connect to all of the different regionalized versions of DAZN, including Canadian, German, French, Italian, Swiss, and UK versions. ProtonVPN even provides a step-by-step guide on how to unblock DAZN with ProtonVPN. For instance, connecting to the Canadian site allows you to access Premier League, UEFA Champions, and Europa League coverage.

Speeds

When considering a VPN for streaming and gaming, being able to get past the geo-blocking is very important. But almost as important is the speeds you’ll get when using their servers. While it naturally depends on how much bandwidth you have, it’s entirely possible for a VPN server to be the cause of buffering – or worse – high latency.

In the case of ProtonVPN, speed shouldn’t generally be an issue. Is it the fastest VPN out there? Far from it. However, it does really well in upload speeds and keeping fair speeds when connected to servers that are located far away from you. Thankfully, the latency shouldn’t be a problem either (in most cases). Well, this is what we found after testing it ourselves. Here’s a snapshot of our speeds before using the VPN:

Speed test in London without VPN

And this is what we found after we connected to the ProtonVPN server in London:

Speed test in London with ProtonVPN

As you can see from the screenshots, the latency is low and we still have a lot of bandwidth for streaming, gaming, or just surfing the web. Unfortunately, there was still a major drop in speeds after we connected to the ProtonVPN server.

We also tested it by connecting to a server in the United States (FL), with a 100Mbps connection, but the result was the following:
Speed test in Florida with ProtonVPN

In this case, the latency would be fine for browsing and streaming, but certainly not for gaming. The download and upload speeds were around 50% of what we tested before connecting to the ProtonVPN server. Not the worst we’ve seen, but not that impressive either.

Torrenting With ProtonVPN

Once again, ProtonVPN Free plan proves limited in this area as torrenting is reserved for users with a paid membership. This is fair enough – you won’t find many reliable VPN services that allow you to use P2P torrenting without paying for it. Besides, torrenting with ProtonVPN is much safer than torrenting and P2P sharing without a VPN. 

ProtonVPN being based in Switzerland means being protected by very strong data protection laws, and this VPN’s protocols keep your data and IP address secure. They don’t keep any logs of their users’ activity, either.

Compatibility and Servers

ProtonVPN offers a fantastic level of compatibility no matter your device. Each of the apps works smoothly. There are native apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, Android, Android TV, and iOS/iPadOS. 

Depending on your membership, you may be able to connect up to 10 different devices. Once again, there’s a big boost if you go for the Plus membership, as the Basic allows you to connect just two devices, but the Plus plan allows 10 VPN connections.

There are currently over 1,300 servers within the network, scattered across the globe. The majority of these are Plus servers, reserved for those top-tiers of membership.

ProtonVPN Server Locations

There are 55 different server locations that you can access worldwide, including within the Russian Federation.

The majority of the key locations are covered, including the US, UK, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, France, and more. You can use these servers to mask your location and access localized services such as streaming on Hulu, which is limited to the US, or BBC iPlayer, which is limited to the UK.

55 countries is respectable, but not as high as some other VPN companies. ExpressVPN, for instance, can allow you to connect to over 90 different countries. Fortunately, for most peoples’ needs, ProtonVPN offers more than enough.

Design: Less Isn’t Always More

It can quickly become frustrating when a VPN’s user interface isn’t up to scratch (even if it’s really fast and unblocks streaming platforms). Fortunately, ProtonVPN’s flat-style design and simple interface make it very convenient to get it up and running.

We sought our expert’s opinion of ProtonVPN’s UI/UX – from the application’s settings to its overall appearance. Here’s her professional opinion on the app.

Our Expert Review and Rating of ProtonVPN’s UI/UX Design

Barbara Niveyro
Barbara Niveyro
User Interface Designer

When analyzing ProtonVPN’s UI and UX design, and keeping in mind that VPNs are a tool that users do not expect to interact with for long periods of time – since its goal is to set it up once on the phone or computer, make sure that it works, forget about it, and move on using professional software and entertainment platforms – the ProtonVPN app is successful at being simple, intuitive, and easy to use for someone that is accustomed to interacting with MacOS, PC, Android and iOS. If the client knows what to do, the service is straightforward. Although they could use a more universal language for colors and graphics. 

That being said, I think that ProtonVPN also wants to differ from other VPNs (and probably the reason why they look different but still simple) because they are based on values (transparency and honesty) and are community oriented – at least according to their website and marketing. And that’s a big difference compared to other VPNs that highlight other skills about their products. The style also looks very minimal, and that’s a way to translate transparency – since there is not too much to look at, it is not confusing. I think that the minimal and elegant look that the user-friendly interface provides is consistent with the message that the company wants to give. Of course, these are marketing strategies, but consistency is an important skill for communication – and design is one of the shapes that communication takes that affects the viewer in a more subliminal way.

I also think that they are very clear about the clients that they are trying to attract. They want to attract users that care about privacy, community, and open source software (because they offer a free version of the VPN that even though it is slower, it works pretty well). They also want to attract people in science, engineering and tech. So, even though their targeted audience is specific, it is also very broad.

For accessibility, there are no options to customize the application, and I think the design could improve some aspects. It would also be great if they had videos on their official YouTube channel to show how to download, set-up, and use with iOS, Mac, Android, Windows, Linux, etc.

Based on my opinion as an Open Designer for Innovation, Communicator and Writer, I rate  ProtonVPN’s user interference, user experience and accessibility features 6/10. I think their design could be a bit better, provide some accessibility options, and create tutorials on their official YouTube channel.

    6
    6

    Devices

    In the higher membership tiers, you can connect up to 10 devices using your membership. Fortunately, ProtonVPN’s support for a variety of devices and as a browser addon are fantastic. Connecting is simple whether you’ve got a generation-old Android tablet or a brand new MacBook.

    ProtonVPN for Windows

    ProtonVPN doesn’t mind how up-to-date your operating system is as long as you’re using one of Windows versions 7, 8, or 10. Vista and XP are not supported since they have some inherent security risks. Honestly, you don’t want to be running Vista in 2021 anyway. To get ProtonVPN up and running on Windows, you can install the native client app on your Windows desktop or laptop, available directly from ProtonVPN’s website.

    ProtonVPN for Mac

    Mac users will also find it simple to download and install a native app available from ProtonVPN, but it is all about getting the right version for the OS you are running. By default, the latest app for Macs, running an OS more up-to-date than 10.14 (Catalina or Big Sur), will get the latest DMG file from the ProtonVPN site.

    If your Mac runs macOS 10.14 or earlier, you will need to download version 1.9.3 of the ProtonVPN app. See the instructions here: ProtonVPN macOS application. Their support page also includes Instructions for older operating systems.

    ProtonVPN for iOS

    You can download the iOS version directly from the App Store. You can also pay for membership directly through the app, but this doesn’t necessarily work out as the most affordable method. To use the app on iPhone or iPad, you need iOS 12.1 or later. iPads require iPadOS 12.1 or later. The iOS app has an average review score of 3.9/5, which is not perfect, but we found no problems when downloading and using the app.

    ProtonVPN for Android

    ProtonVPN has over 5 million downloads for Android OS. The current Version 2.8.75 of the app requires Android 6.0 and up. If you’re clinging onto older versions or just want to connect via OpenVPN Connect, this is a possibility, too. The brand has created a handy guide to configuring OpenVPN Connect apps. You should probably only attempt this if you’ve got a decent level of tech knowledge, or you might find yourself getting very frustrated.

    Apps and Extensions

    ProtonVPN Plus membership allows connecting up to 10 different devices. The company provides client apps for a wide selection of platforms that you can access with your account. On the ProtonVPN website, you will find options to download for Mac and Windows, as shown below, as well as for Linux, Chromebook, and Android TV. Instructions for Android and iPhone/iPad apps are also available on the website.

    The official ProtonVPN Linux app, a Chromebook app, and an Android TV app

    The official ProtonVPN Linux app, a Chromebook app, and an Android TV app open up possibilities for streaming and viewing content from all around the world.

    Usability

    Click on the Signup button (accessible from each page) to see available plans, as well as the option to change your currency. The three settings are USD, CHF, and EUR.

    ProtonVPN Signup button placed on the top-right corner of the web page

    Next, select whether you want to pay monthly, yearly, or two-yearly. The longer the subscription, the cheaper each month works out. Honestly, though, two years is a longer commitment than some people make for their car, so this option seems unfeasible for a VPN. 

    ProtonVPN pricing plans in USD

    Choose which plan you want, based on the features, and click the button below it to enter your details and sign up.

    ProtonVPN's Get Plus button is placed right below the price and list of features

    Having your account already set up means that when you download and install the appropriate app, you will be able to log in immediately. Here is what it looks like when you open the application for the first time on Mac OS.

    ProtonVPN login screen on MacOSFirst things first: Getting your account set up is vital, and it’s worth doing this before you download the app to ensure you have access when it is needed.

    Input the email address and password you used to sign up for your account, and you will be ready to go. “Start on Boot” means that the app will open whenever you boot up your device.

    Your login credentials will remain the same no matter what device you use.

    The fastest way to get connected to a server is to hit “Quick Connect” but this doesn’t allow you to choose your location. It’s fine if you just want to mask where you are, but if you want to get the new hit show from the US, there’s no point in connecting to a location like Taiwan.

    ProtonVPN Quick Connet button with list of countries available to connect with

    Instead, search from the list of countries. You can then see the servers and a handy speed indicator on the list. A Connect button comes up when you hover over the server, and voila! You are ready to connect.

    ProtonVPN PLUS Servers countrywise list

    You don’t necessarily have to delve any further than this, but if you do want to change the default connection protocols or other settings within the app, you can go to File and then Preferences to access the menu below.

    ProtonVPN's Connection menu under Preferences includes auto and quick connect options, Smart Protocol, VPN Accelerator and DNS Leak Protection among others

    ProtonVPN Security: Better Than What You’d Expect

    Security considerations should always be high on your list when choosing a VPN, especially when that VPN service is still relatively new. ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland, offering high levels of security and protecting your privacy in many ways, but that doesn’t mean you’re totally infallible. The “no logs” policy we’ve come to expect doesn’t mean that there isn’t any record of your details.

    Our resident security expert shares their expert opinion here regarding the rock-solid encryption and advantages of the Swiss location.

    Our Expert Review and Rating of ProtonVPN’s Security

    8

    Protocols and Security

    It’s all very well taking advantage of the watertight laws in Switzerland, but this is only beneficial if the VPN itself has a strong level of encryption and security.

    Tunneling

    ProtonVPN supports tunneling (hiding data packets within another packet to protect it from public view).

    Other forms of VPN tunneling you can use:

    • L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol)/IPsec
    • OpenVPN using TCP or UDP. UDP is usually quicker, but the retransmission of lost data packets can only be done using TCP.

    ProtonVPN’s website explains that they have deliberately chosen not to use servers that support PPTP and L2TP/IPSec as they are trying to keep their servers running the “most reliable protocol”. 

    Encryption

    By default, the encryption method is AES-256, key exchange is done with 4096-bit RSA, and HMAC with SHA384 is used for message authentication.

    There are additional considerations, and ProtonVPN seems keen to back up those Swiss privacy laws with unbreakable encryption.

    They have handpicked cipher suites and ensure they only use suites offering “Perfect Forward Secrecy.” This means that if your data packets and encrypted traffic get captured, they can’t be decrypted at a later date if there is a leak and the encryption key from another session is leaked. Every session has its own encryption key, used only once, further protecting the privacy of your traffic.

    Many VPNs are moving to RAM-only Servers, but ProtonVPN is taking a different approach. Virtually no data that would render users identifiable is stored on the servers, but the data that happens to be stored is protected by full disk encryption. All vital configurations and software, including server certificates, are automatically stored on an exit server. If the server itself got hacked or compromised in a man-in-the-middle attack, the “attackers would not be able to access any data stored on it.” 

    ProtonVPN has additional features to protect their users:

    • Private DNS – Private and encrypted DNS on every server, with no third-party servers used in their network.
    • ProtonVPN Kill Switch – Automatic disconnection if your VPN connection drops to prevent users from becoming traceable.
    • Tor over VPN Support – Plus and Visionary plans allow Onion to Tor over a VPN connection for added security. The ISP can’t detect that you are using Tor.

    DNS leak protection is also in place to prevent data leaking via DNS queries to third parties. This is accessible on the Preferences page, but it can be confusing as it doesn’t look like it has been turned on.

    In fact, in spite of what the interface below seems to show, DNS protection is always on.

    ProtonVPN’s DNS Leak Protection option in the Connection menu appears turned off with a grey toggle button

    ProtonVPN Reliability: That’s Great And All... But, We Still Have a Few Questions!

    ProtonVPN’s privacy policy actually starts with a “Philosophy” section. While this section probably doesn’t carry much weight legally, it’s a handy overview of where the company is coming from:

    Our Company is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy. It is our overriding policy to collect as little user information as possible to ensure a private and anonymous user experience when using the Service.

    The policies definitely back up this promise, along with the protection of the Swiss laws that we keep mentioning (it’s a big plus point). If you’re the sort of person who finds it hard to understand the technical and legal jargon, our expert provides a simple overview of how ProtonVPN’s privacy policy protects your rights.

    Our Expert Rating and Review of ProtonVPN’s Data Privacy Policy

    Gillian Carrington Lawyer
    Gillian Carrington
    Privacy & Data Protection Lawyer

    ProtonVPN’s Privacy Policy is not wholly GDPR compliant but nonetheless offers a very good standard of data privacy. We expect the company to update its Policy once the new Swiss Data Protection Law is in force. 

    The GDPR is widely regarded as setting the global “gold standard” for data privacy by requiring accountability, and empowering data subjects to know what is happening to their data and control it. This Privacy Policy reflects the data protection practices of the era before the GDPR and must, of necessity, fall short. Nonetheless, we find the totality of the ProtonVPN privacy offering very good.

    The positive aspects of the privacy policy include (i) complying with the data minimization and purpose limitation principles to the maximum extent possible by holding minimal personal data, (ii) communicating in a clear, intelligible, and transparent manner, (iii) having first class data security through the organization of technical and security measures, (iv) offering the Transparency Report, which allows users to see exactly what is happening to their personal data  (v) offering users a wealth of information about the company’s servers, their locations and the privacy considerations in respect of the types of servers and (vi) going above the national law requirements in terms of data subject access rights. ProtonVPN also commits to safeguarding users’ privacy by not logging and storing users’ connection or behavioral data. .

    On the negative side, the Policy is clearly not GDPR-compliant. We could expand on this point at some length: (i) there is no data protection officer, (ii) there is no cookies warning at all, let alone a choice as to what cookies a user agrees to accept, (iii) there is no GDPR-style specific, informed consent recording, (iv) the policy is wholly silent as to data transfer mechanisms (and with over 1,300 servers worldwide, you would think some data must get transferred), (v) there is no GDPR justification for data processing and (vi) the company details contained in the Imprint are all in French. The site also, rather confusingly, invites you to complain directly to the data protection regulator rather than offering a first point of contact with ProtonVPN.

    Notwithstanding these multiple deficiencies, we think that the totality of the ProtonVPN privacy offering is very good. This Privacy Policy represents in real terms a lot of what the GDPR is about – namely the maximum minimization of data processing, iron-clad security and real transparency around its activities.

    We rate PrivateVPN's privacy 8 / 10.

      8
      8

      Customer Support

      Even the most tech-savvy among us might find that we need a little bit of tech support along the way, right?

      How does ProtonVPN stack up when it comes to getting the help you need and establishing exactly how the nuances of their apps and server setup work?

      KnowledgeBase or “Support Center”

      ProtonVPN has a huge knowledge base, including several guides on setting up the VPN in different countries and accessing different streaming services.

      You can start typing a query into the Support Center’s search bar and any relevant matches will come up, allowing you to follow in-depth text and photographic setup guides and troubleshooting.

      ProtonVPN’s Support Center with a search bar

      Email Support

      You can contact ProtonVPN via email, but this is not necessarily the best way to do it, and even their website says it isn’t the fastest way to get a response. Instead, you should fill out their Support Form to allow their tech support to respond to your issues quickly.

      ProtonVPN’s support form

      By filling in details about your operating system, the OS you are running and the ProtonVPN version you are using, tech support has a better idea of how to answer your queries. You can also input your username “so the request can be prioritized” but we’re not sure how much difference this makes.

      Company Overview and History

      The ProtonVPN company actually started as ProtonMail, a free, encrypted mail service based in Switzerland. This mail service still runs in parallel to the VPN service.

      Proton Technologies AG is the company running these subsidiaries. The company was founded in 2014, but the VPN service didn’t launch until 2017. As earlier stated, the company is based in Geneva, Switzerland. This seems to be a deliberate decision to take advantage of those solid protection laws for the consumer, giving them the edge when it comes to privacy.

      The founders of the company also have an impressive background. Founding partners Andy Yen, Jason Stockman, and Wei Sun are all scientists by trade, and met at CERN (the European Center for Nuclear Research). You can be sure of a scientific approach with the ProtonVPN team.

      The company has offices in Prague and Skopje, and employees working remotely in 17 countries. Out of almost 300 registered employees listed on LinkedIn, 121 specialize in engineering and 56 in IT. The VPN is technically an employee-owned company.

      Proton Technologies was initially funded through crowdfunding. Later, additional funding was sourced through Venture Capital by FONGIT “Fondation Genevoise pour l’Innovation Technologique,” a non-profit foundation, which itself is financed through the Swiss Federal Commission for Technology and Innovation. 

      ProtonVPN’s Business Structure

      The business structure of this VPN, including where it is headquartered, is definitely worth considering for any potential customers. This can have a huge impact on how a VPN is run.

      Our expert business consultant delved into the history and origins of the business and the corporate structure.

      Our Expert Review and Rating of ProtonVPN's Business Structure

      Alla Robert Aristakesyan
      Alla Robert Aristakesyan
      Business Consultant

      Based on the conducted research, it is assumed that ProtonVPN has demonstrated trust and acceptance in terms of business performance considering the $4.87M funds raised by its parent company Proton Technologies AG through crowdfunding, venture capital and grants provided by the Swiss government and the European Union.

      Founded in 2014 by a group of scientists, mainly Andy Yen (founder and CEO), Jason Stockman (co-founder), and Wei Sun (co-founder), Proton Technologies AG claims to have majority of its shares distributed to its employees, while the remaining of the company shares are held by the Fondation Genevoise pour l’Innovation Technologique (FONGIT), a non-profit foundation established for the public good, with a small number of shares held by Proton users. Being assessed by third parties for funding and partnership purposes (i.e. by Mozilla, the nonprofit foundation behind the Firefox web browser), Proton claims to be a transparent and trustworthy company despite the fact that it does not disclose any financial information to the public. Registered as a Joint Stock Company (AG), one of the most common forms of corporations in Switzerland, it adheres to local rules and regulations, which does not oblige JSCs to publicly publish annual financial reports. At the same time, in Switzerland, companies have a duty to keep accounts and prepare financial reports in accordance with the Swiss Code of Obligations and file company related information and updates at the Swiss commercial register ‘The Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce (SOGC)’, which is available to public.The latter includes information regarding company name, locations, company statutes, shares, etc. 

      When it comes to companies/products developed by Proton Technologies AG, ProtonMail (ProtonMail AG) – a secure email service with built-in end-to-end encryption and state of the art security feature – was the initial product, followed by ProtonVPN (ProtonVPN AG) released in 2017. ProtonCalendar (beta) – the first fully encrypted calendar app – was released in December 2019 and ProtonDrive (beta)  – encrypted cloud storage – was released in November 2020. In this respect it should be noted that almost no information is available which will allow assessing ProtonVPN AG’s performance as a separate business. The only  available information is probably the business model which is based on subscription fees along with its free account version. However no information is available regarding its profitability and even the number of employees that work specifically on ProtonVPN within Proton Technologies AG.

      Based on my opinion as a business consultant I rate ProtonVPN business 5 / 10.

        5
        5

        ProtonVPN’s Pricing: Above Average (For the Win?)

        ProtonVPN has a pretty simple pricing structure and the option to get started for free. The paid plans include:

        • Basic – $5 a month
        • Plus – $10 a month
        • Visionary – $30 a month

        You can save 20% by paying annually, and 33% by paying for two years. 

        The Basic plan allows you to use more servers, and add one extra device. It also unlocks slightly quicker speeds on the servers, but realistically, far better features come into play when you opt for more expensive membership. 

        Plus membership is where you really start to unlock what this VPN can do, using up to 10 devices, and features such as streaming via video services like Netflix. This is one of the most common uses of VPNs, and it is a little annoying that the $5 membership doesn’t allow you to stream. However, $10 per month is not excessively expensive in the world of VPNs.

        For a more in-depth look at how ProtonVPN’s prices compare against some of its competitors, we asked our pricing expert to run the rule over the platform.

        Our Expert Review and Rating of ProtonVPN’s Pricing

        Tamara Milacic
        Tamara Milacic
        Pricing Expert

        When analysing ProtonVPN’s pricing structure, the 4 tiered plans offer customers a range of options to choose from. The plans are distinguished by their features and it is very clear what the differences are. There is a toggle at the top of the page for currency and length of commitment and there are discounts offered for a 1 or 2 year commitment over the monthly one. 

        Although the plan differences are clear, the plans are lined up from free and going all the way to the highest price. This is not the ideal setup because of anchoring – what customers see first ($0) anchors their price expectations and makes the subsequent plans seem more expensive. However, the Visionary (most expensive) plan does work as an anchor in the other direction because it is much more expensive than the other three. Upon closer inspection it is actually a bundle of VPN and an email service and not just a VPN plan. 

        Past anchoring, ProtonVPN does not take advantage of many other psychological tricks. Their website pricing is rounded to the nearest dollar/eur/franc as opposed to using charm pricing that ends with 9s and signals a deal like many of their competitors. Although they do employ charm pricing on iOS. Nonetheless, they do state the total savings that come with the longer commitment plans. 

        In terms of strategy, Proton VPN operates a freemium model. Freemium models work well to entice customers with high barriers to try a service for free, with the expectation that a certain proportion will convert to paying customers as they become familiar with a service and look for more features. The freemium model is popular with large subscription based companies in other industries, such as Spotify. ProtonVPNs paid plans fall within a market pricing strategy. They are not the cheapest nor the most expensive in the market. Their pricing is likely informed by the market but does not follow it explicitly. 

        When it comes to return policy, ProtonVPN sits where the rest of the market is with a 30 day money back guarantee. Unlike the rest of the market, they do have an option for customers to pay in cash (anonymously) which is oftentimes an important consideration with VPNs. Lastly, ProtonVPN fails to offer business plans but this could be due to not having businesses as a target customer. 

        Based on my opinion as a pricing consultant I rate Proton VPN pricing 7 / 10.

          7
          7

          Extra Features – What Sets ProtonVPN Apart

          With so many competing VPNs out there, most of them are trying to put themselves ahead of the curve with extra features. While some are drawn to ProtonVPN because of their location, others find these extra features, beyond what you might expect from a VPN, tantalizing.

          ProtonVPN Kill Switch

          The kill switch gives you a backup if you lose your connection to the server. The VPN detects this, and will protect your IP address in the event that you are left exposed by a lost connection. The kill switch automatically takes you offline.

          Adblocker (NetShield)

          All paid plans include an adblocker that speeds up browsing by blocking ads, prevents you from accidentally clicking on malware, and even stops ads from tracking you around the internet. Netshield has three levels of protection and you can choose exactly how you want to use the blocker to improve your browsing. This guide shows you how to use Netshield on different devices: How to Use Adblocker via ProtonVPN

          Full Disk Encryption

          Another privacy measure available on the ProtonVPN servers is that the company uses full disk encryption, so any seized server by authorities (or anyone else) would be inaccessible. Data packets cannot be decrypted at a later date.

          ProtonMail

          If you opt for the Visionary plan for ProtonVPN, you also get access to a ProtonMail Visionary account for private and secure email. You can have six users and 50 addresses, as well as 20GB of storage with this plan.

          Tor Over VPN

          ProtonVPN supports Tor over VPN. This means that traffic originating from your IP address is encrypted through the Tor (Onion) network and is never revealed, either to your ISP or any Tor nodes. It takes just one click with the ProtonVPN app to start using Tor over VPN and you can get started as soon as you download the app.

          With Tor, you have the option to connect to hidden sites, known as onion sites, which can only be reached on the network. ProtonMail is an example of a service with its own onion site. They bypass regional censorship in countries where the browsing laws are strict.

          ProtonVPN Pros and Cons

          Pros

          Cons

          Over 1300 servers in 55 locations all over the world You can only access streaming services online with the two higher membership tiers.
          Compatibility with a vast range of platforms and devices, including Android and iOS No browser extension app, so you need to run the native app on your system.
          Comes with an adblocker included No live chat function for support.
          Incredibly easy to set up Tor over VPN and start protecting your IP address A limited number of devices are allowed to be connected at the same time, up to 10 on the higher paid plans.
          Excellent speeds over the robust network, especially in certain locations, including London servers More transparency in terms of business activity is needed.
          Full disk encryption means any server data that is compromised or seized will be unusable and inaccessible The app design could do with some improvements.
          Users can take advantage of the Swiss data protection laws giving more privacy than many other countries, and no requirement to share your data with other parties

          Conclusion – Does This Scientific VPN Get Scientific Results?

          ProtonVPN has some very advantageous features, and some people are always on the lookout for a great Swiss VPN. The free plan tends to reel people in, but it is quite restrictive.

          This particular VPN seems cheaper, but if you really want to get the most out of it, you need to get at least the Plus plan to open up options for streaming and the more advanced features. The vast majority of the servers are also “Plus” servers, so a basic plan doesn’t give you huge advantages.

          Overall, ProtonVPN is a great option for the security-conscious VPN user, with rock-solid servers and exceptional performance to back up your privacy.

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