As a long-time customer of ProtonMail, I was curious to see whether its world-renowned privacy and security standards would carry over into its sister product, Proton VPN. The CERN scientists behind the world-class encrypted email technology have a lot of competition amongst premium VPNs. I wondered if these privacy pros could offer any new, innovative features that aren’t already available with other top VPNs.
To sum it up, Proton VPN is a good choice if you need a secure VPN compatible with most devices. Being based in Switzerland and utilizing the powerful encryption technology behind ProtonMail make this a very safe option. However, it will still have to make some improvements to compete with the top VPNs.
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Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
- Good at unblocking streaming platforms. I was able to access Netflix US without any issues, as well as several other popular streaming sites. Check out all the streaming platforms Proton VPN can unblock here.
- Military-grade encryption and other security features. Proton VPN didn’t leak my IP address or DNS requests, and it has advanced security features to keep your data and privacy safe. Discover more about all of Proton VPN’s security features here.
- Full-featured app for Linux, Windows, and Android. It offers one of the only free Linux VPNs with a full GUI, but Mac and iOS users miss out. See which features aren't available on Mac and iOS devices here.
- The app is well-designed and easy to use. I was able to easily navigate the app, turn on features, and connect to servers quickly. Learn more about the app’s functionality here.
- Prices are good. This is a fairly affordable VPN that also offers a 30-day money-back guarantees. Find out how much each pricing tier costs a month here.
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Proton VPN Features — Updated in January 2023
Money Back Guarantee
Does VPN keep logs?
Number of servers
Number of devices per license
Based in country
Streaming — Great at Unblocking Platforms, but Only Okay for Streaming8.0
I was impressed at the number of platforms Proton VPN can unblock, but long load times hurt the streaming experience. Proton VPN has several varieties of servers, but you need the Proton VPN Plus plan to access the best servers for unblocking streaming services. Proton VPN Plus start at $4.99/month if you sign up for 2 years, but costs double if you pay month-to-month. These prices are pretty average among VPNs that perform well for streaming.
Its free servers aren’t good for avoiding geoblocks, as I couldn’t unblock any websites with them. However, the streaming quality was surprisingly good with free servers; videos loaded in Ultra HD (4K) in 3 seconds or less and played back without buffering. But then I ran into a strange issue. The free locations are limited to Japan, The Netherlands, and the US. On Japan’s Free#1 server, I logged in to Netflix, but I wasn’t able to access Japanese content like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
While reading Proton VPN’s website, I found out that Netflix can detect your VPN usage with free servers. When Netflix knows you’re using a VPN, it will only let you access content that’s available worldwide. This confirms that Proton VPN's free servers won’t help you explore different libraries or access region-specific platforms.
However, servers on the Plus plan unblocked a huge number of platforms and Netflix regions. Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and every other top platform were easy to unblock with Plus servers. I also connected to Netflix with servers in 7 different countries. Libraries in Australia, the US, Germany, Japan, France, the UK, and Portugal were all unlocked with zero issues. Plus servers are marked with a capital P in the app.
The quality of the streams varied depending on the servers. With local servers, videos loaded quickly and played back smoothly in Ultra HD. When they were farther from my location, I encountered long load times, low-resolution picture quality, and buffering.
Apart from Netflix and Crunchyroll, the 30 servers I tested also unblocked Disney+, Hulu, and the following platforms:
|Amazon Prime Video
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Unblocked: Netflix US/UK, ESPN+, Disney+, and more
I started out connecting to a server in California (US). It’s a plus server about 350 km from me, and it unblocked US Netflix.
What's Eating Gilbert Grape is only available on US Netflix, so I knew I wasn't watching the worldwide library
Unblocking other Netflix regions was simple, but distant servers took longer and longer to load. When I was watching Netflix with a Tokyo server (8,544 km away), it took 12 seconds for the homepage to fully load. I clicked on Vincenzo, and the video didn’t start for 30 seconds. When it began, the picture was choppy and took 10 more seconds to resolve into Ultra HD.
9Now is a free streaming channel in Australia over 12,000 km from me. The AU#14 server in Sydney gave me access, but I had to refresh after the first video I tried froze. On the second try, it took 20 seconds just to begin. I had similar issues with the British NOWTV platform. Using the UK#21 Manchester location, Tenet didn’t load for up to 25 seconds. In short, be prepared to wait a while for videos to start when servers are far away.
Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video have very tough geoblocks, but I had no issues unblocking them with Proton VPN.
Disney+ videos loaded instantly and played buffer-free
I was able to use it with Kodi too, but P2P streaming with the app was frustrating. For my test, I watched The Wasp Woman with a popular add-on called Popcorn Time. It took about 2 minutes to load, and the video paused to buffer several times. Even though the VPN works with Kodi and P2P streaming add-ons like Popcorn Time, these platforms contain copyrighted material, so you need to use them responsibly and make sure you’re not streaming anything illegally.
It worked just as well at unblocking platforms on Linux. I accessed Netflix, Disney+, and every other platform I unblocked with my Windows app. The videos played back smoothly, but I still had the same loading issues.
There weren’t any streaming platforms I attempted to access that Proton VPN couldn’t unblock. The way it bypasses geoblocks is quite impressive. It’s just too bad that the streaming experience has a few issues. In addition, it's more expensive than a lot of other VPNs that perform better for streaming.
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Speeds — Decent Speeds, but Slow on Distant Servers7.4
Proton VPN has decent speeds, but it slows down at long distances. I performed my tests on a Microsoft Surface laptop running Windows 10. All of the speeds were recorded with Proton VPN set to the OpenVPN (UDP) protocol.
I also used the VPN Accelerator feature for my tests since it greatly increased my speeds. This feature is turned on by default. It performs several tweaks to the VPN that speed up the connection, especially at long distances. With tests on local servers, VPN Accelerator doubled my download rates on average (compared to results with it turned off). When I tested my VPN Accelerator speed on the faraway Japan server, my speeds were 10 times faster than with it turned off! However, my local speeds were still around 50 percent faster than the fastest speeds I got on long-distance ones. It's a great feature, but it still doesn't make it as fast as some of its competitors.
Servers over 4,000 km away lost 22 percent in download speed
I used the Quick Connect feature first; it chooses the fastest server for you based on your location. The feature also factors in the load — a percentage that tells you how crowded a server is. Quick Connect placed me on a Los Angeles server 352 km away with a 64.33 Mbps download speed and a 68 percent load.
My base speed was 66.97 Mbps, so I was impressed at how small the drop was. It was only 3 percent slower than my original connection. With such a small reduction in speed, I could still stream movies with no issues. You only need 5 Mbps to stream in HD, and 64.33 Mbps is more than 12 times faster.
Without Quick Connect, I actually found a server that was slightly faster. The CO#16 location in Denver gave me 66.70 Mbps. It had a 45 percent load and how crowded the server is makes a difference. I tried a server at 96 percent (US-Free#2), and the speed was down to 55.18 Mbps (13 percent slower than Denver).
Speaking of different server types, I decided to record the average speeds of each to see how they compare:
Routing the traffic twice lowers Secure Core server speeds
On average, the P2P servers were faster than the regular plus options by around 5 Mbps and proved to be the fastest overall. I was also surprised plus servers were slower than even the free ones because Proton’s website lists them as reaching up to 10 Gbps. Secure Core connections route your traffic to two locations for extra encryption which drops the speed considerably. These servers gave me an average speed of 32.27 Mbps.
Overall, the speeds aren't bad, but I do find it odd that the plus servers cost more than free ones, and were slower. Based on my tests, you’ll want to use nearby plus servers for the quickest connections. However, if you're concerned about speeds, there are many faster options out there.
Are Proton VPN’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? Yes7.0
Proton VPN is a good VPN for gaming, but only if you use a server close to you. You’ll want to use a nearby location because they offer lower ping rates, which are important for gaming. Plus, even when I had a low ping on distant servers, they still didn’t perform well with games.
The ping is how long it takes for your data to travel. You’ll want it to be below 100 ms, so your inputs are received quickly. When the ping is high, it takes your character longer to react to the keys you press. This makes games unplayable because no matter how skilled you are, you still lose due to technical issues.
I started on a CA#28 plus server not far from me. It gave me an 84 ms ping. Loading up Hearthstone, I was surprised at how smoothly the opening cinematic played. When I looked for a match, the loading screen did stall briefly, but that happens to me even without a VPN. My game started in less than 10 seconds, and I was able to play without any lag.
I suggest connecting to a plus server with a low load percentage
However, Hearthstone is a slower-paced card game. I wanted to test out Proton VPN on something more demanding, so I turned on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. It’s a fast-paced, first-person shooter that becomes unplayable with even the slightest amount of lag. In only 14 seconds, I found a match and got to play without any problems. My character instantly responded to all of my commands.
But this wasn’t the case with distant servers. The NY#45 server thousands of miles away wouldn’t even let me play. After I started looking for a match, I waited for 3 minutes while the game failed to reach Counter-Strike’s official server. I logged out and tried again, but the same thing happened. This surprised me because the ping rate was only 85 ms.
To make sure it wasn’t my connection, I went back to the CA#28 server and found a match in 10 seconds. The same issues came up with servers in Canada and the UK. So, Proton VPN is a good VPN for gaming, but only if you’re using local connections.
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Server Network — Small, but Has Lots of Specialized Servers8.2
Proton VPN doesn’t have the most servers compared to other VPNs, but the specialized options make it quite flexible. It offers 1,925 servers in 67 countries that cover Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Australasia, and Africa. It also gives you city-level locations which are generally faster than country-level servers.
The symbols (or lack of them) next to a server location will show you its function.
Several servers have a variety of functions, so they have multiple symbols beside them
- Free: There's no symbol next to these servers either. However, they're easy to find because they all have the word free in their title (US-FREE#1, for example).
- Plus: A little play button (a sideways triangle) indicates the plus servers. These servers are optimized for streaming, and they can unlock a ton of platforms. You'll need to be subscribed to the premium plus plan to access them.
- Tor: The little grey onion indicates these servers let you use the TOR network if you have a plus plan or above.
- P2P: The 2 arrows pointing in opposite directions show you the P2P servers, which are ideal for torrenting.
- Secure Core: You can activate Secure Core servers by pressing the lock icon above the server list. They double as plus servers, so you'll need a plus plan to use them.
If you see the word “maintenance” next to the server, this means it’s down for maintenance. But on the mobile apps, it’s a wrench. While I was testing servers, I tried connecting to the #9 IP in New Jersey. It loaded for over a minute without connecting, and I had to quit the app. When I reactivated it, the word “maintenance” appeared next to server US TX#26-28. This is a nice feature that shows you Proton VPN is on top of fixing malfunctioning servers.
To the left of the server name, is the load percentage. I was a little confused by this at first. The load appears up top next to the IP address once you’re connected. However, I wanted to know what it was before I chose a server. It took me some time to figure out that the circle beside the server tells you the percentage when you hover over it. You can also quickly gauge how full a connection is by noting the color: green is low, yellow is moderate, and red means it’s quite crowded.
Another nice thing about its servers is that they don’t use third-party DNS servers. This is good because it eliminates another way hackers or companies have to intercept your information. Basically, when you try to access a website, your request can be read and you can be sent to a malicious website.
Proton VPN also exclusively uses bare-metal servers. These are physical servers rather than virtual locations (also known as dedicated servers). This adds an extra layer of security since the servers are less vulnerable to online attacks by hackers. The company does work with third parties to rent some servers, but it thoroughly vets its partners. Proton VPN works with partners to make sure that it can’t be compelled to follow laws in countries outside of Switzerland where it’s based. So, the fact that it rents servers actually protects you when the servers are in high-risk locations. Plus, it owns many of its Secure Core servers.
With the free plan, you can access 23 servers in 3 countries. Currently, there are 3 free locations in Japan, 9 in the US, and 11 in the Netherlands. These servers are quite limited compared to the others. They won't allow you to unblock many streaming sites, plus they're slower and won't work for torrenting. However, it shows how dedicated to internet privacy the company is. Many VPNs only offer 1 server to free customers, 23 is impressive.
Even though Proton VPN doesn’t have the largest server network, its servers are secure, updated frequently, and serve several useful functions.
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Security — Excellent Security Technology and Features9.4
Proton VPN excels at security; it has military-grade encryption which reliably hides your IP and protects your sensitive information.
The VPN was developed by CERN scientists with the same technology they used to create ProtonMail, one of the most secure email services available. Having such impressive technologists behind the development of the app adds another layer of credibility to its security functions.
It also has open-source apps, which makes the VPN even more secure. This is because people around the world can test it for vulnerabilities and suggest improvements. On top of that, it has several additional security features like Secure Core servers, split tunneling, and a kill switch.
DNS leak protection makes sure that only Proton VPN can see what websites you visit. It also uses OpenVPN, the safest VPN protocol.
Added together, these all show that Proton VPN is a great option for keeping your data encrypted and secure.
Proton VPN uses AES-256 bit encryption which keeps your data incredibly safe. In simple terms, AES-256 bit encryption means the key to your data is hidden in a combination of numbers 78 digits long. Finding the proper key to reveal your information is nearly impossible with so many possibilities. If you use the WireGuard protocol, the encryption is called ChaCha20. This is also 256-bits, and it's just as difficult to crack. So, you know your connection is anonymous when you connect to Proton VPN.
For one extra layer of security, Proton VPN utilizes perfect forward secrecy. This feature continuously changes the key Proton VPN uses to decrypt or encrypt information. That means even if the key was ever discovered, you’d still be safe because it’s constantly updated.
Leak Test Results — Passed
Proton VPN passed the DNS leak test, showing me that my location was kept hidden. To perform the test, I connected to the AZ#6 server and accessed ipleak.net. This website shows you the information other pages see when you click on their sites.
The website only detected the Arizona location I was connected to
WebRTC leaks allow the websites you visit to see your vital information, but none were detected. I performed tests on a Windows laptop, along with Android and iOS phones. The results of these leak tests show that Proton VPN will keep you safe.
Secure Core servers add an extra level of security and encryption by sending your data through 2 servers. Other VPNs call this feature multi-hopping. The difference is the first destination is always Proton VPN's extra safe Secure Core servers.
Secure Core servers were developed because in countries like Russia it’s feared that the government could coerce third parties to share server data. Other countries, like the US and the UK, have far-reaching government spying programs. This feature lets users get IPs in these countries with the added protection of running their traffic through more physically secure servers first. This way, if servers in these countries are ever compromised, your data will still be protected.
Secure Core servers are located in Switzerland, Sweden, and Iceland. These are all privacy-friendly countries that don’t share information with the 14 Eyes Alliance. Placing these servers outside of the 14 Eyes’ jurisdiction helps ensure they can’t be compromised.
The servers are extra safe since Proton VPN houses them in secure locations. In Switzerland and Sweden, Secure Core servers are stored in high-security underground data centers. The Iceland servers are kept in a former military base. Plus, each IP is a part of Proton VPN's own Local Internet Registry. Most VPNs don't have their own LIR, so this cuts out another middleman for added security.
Many VPNs have double-hop features that funnel customer’s data through two servers. However, the added physical security Secure Core servers provide makes them stand out.
Desktop users turn on the Secure Core feature by clicking on the lock icon above the server list in the app. After that, you just choose “Secure Core on”. For Android users, it can be toggled on and off at the top of the server list.
On desktops, you press the lock symbol; Android users can toggle it up top
Keep in mind that you need a Plus plan to access Secure Core servers. Although it's nice to have, the military-grade encryption will be enough for most users.
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The kill switch protects you by disabling your internet if the VPN loses connection. This is an important feature that makes sure no one can see your information if a server malfunctions. It also protects you while you’re switching servers.
I tested this feature by trying to access a website while the VPN was switching between servers. The kill switch blocked the traffic, so I couldn’t access the site, and no one could see my unprotected IP.
The kill switch protects you by blocking your traffic when the VPN loses connection
On the desktop app, it took me a little while to find it since it’s often under settings with other VPNs. Proton VPN’s is activated with the light switch icon next to Secure Core and Netshield.
It's not turned on automatically, so be sure to find it before you connect
On the Android app, there are a few extra steps you need to take to enable it. Here, it is under the settings tab you can find in the upper-left corner. Touch Always-On VPN & Kill Switch. This takes you to a section that explains you need to adjust your Android settings. The button sends you to the VPN apps on your phone. Click the settings wheel to access the Always-On function and the kill switch. The kill switch only works when the VPN is set to be connected at all times. It’s a bit of a hassle and not as easy to use as the desktop functionality.
The always-on option has to be activated to turn on the kill switch
The kill switch for iOS and Linux works the same as it does for desktop. The light switch icon is in the same position, and no extra steps are required.
A kill switch is a necessary feature to keep your data secure at all times. It’s nice that it’s available on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux apps.
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Split tunneling lets you send some traffic through the VPN while other apps are moved through your normal connection. This is helpful when you need to access things like a bank account or wireless printer but want to stay connected to a VPN. For example, I was watching BBC iPlayer while connected to a UK server. With split tunneling activated, I could still make bank transfers with that IP excluded from the VPN.
On a Windows or Linux desktop, the feature is found under settings in the advanced tab.
You can pick which apps or IPs are included in the tunnel or excluded
With the Android app, you have to disconnect before you turn it on, and it only lets you exclude apps and IPs. Split tunneling isn’t available for Mac or iOS.
It’s a helpful feature, but it’s disappointing it’s not available on Apple products.
Proton VPN lets you switch Protocols depending on your situation, but the options differ depending on your device. Protocols are a set of rules VPNs use to decide how to send your data to the VPN server.
Every OS (except for Linux) is automatically connected to a feature called Smart Protocol. Smart Protocol causes the VPN to switch between protocols if one is blocked. Protocols are sometimes blocked on restrictive networks, like at school, work, or anywhere where content is censored. Proton VPN will start with the fastest, most stable option it can find and switch to another if it's necessary. It's a nice feature to have since it will save you some time (this could only be done manually in the past). Smart Protocol needs to be toggled off to choose your own protocol.
OpenVPN is open source and is the safest protocol since its source code is available for anyone to analyze. UDP is faster, so it’s recommended for gaming, streaming, or P2P file sharing. TCP helps when you have a poor WiFi connection (when using mobile data for example) or are on a network that blocks VPNs.
IKEv2/IPSsec is an older protocol that is sometimes faster than OpenVPN. However, in my tests OpenVPN UDP gave me the fastest speeds. It is also a little less secure since it isn't open source.
WireGuard is a newer protocol that can keep a VPN connected while switching servers or WiFi networks. It's open source like OpenVPN, but it only works with UDP (a TCP option isn't currently available). This protocol uses ChaCha20 encryption, rather than AES-256. It's also 256-bits and is just as secure.
On Android, Windows, iOS, and Mac devices, OpenVPN UDP and TCP, WireGuard, and IKEv2/IPsec are all available. Linux users are only able to use OpenVPN UDP and TCP.
Netshield ad blocker
Proton VPN’s Netshield is a decent ad blocker that also protects against trackers and malware. The downsides are the Netshield feature is only available while the VPN is connected, and it can’t stop ads on YouTube. However, I found it to be effective at eliminating pop-ups and banner ads with tests on 5 different sites I visit often.
This feature is available on Linux, Mac, iOS, Android, and Windows. It can be set to block malware only, or malware, trackers, and ads. Overall, it’s a nice feature and is one of the better ad blockers included with a premium VPN.
Using Tor With Proton VPN
Tor servers severely throttle your speed and make browsing frustrating. There are only 9 servers total, two in the US and Germany, and one in France, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Sweden, and Iceland. After speed testing each, I only had an average speed of 3 Mbps, often with a 500 ms ping or more.
After I connected to the GA#29 server, I accessed DuckDuckGo with Tor and searched for The Hidden Wiki.onion site. It took the page almost 20 seconds to load, and each link I clicked took just as long or more. I even ran into a few error pages where I had to refresh to find the article I wanted to see. Tor is known for being slow, but I can load pages in 2-3 seconds using it without a VPN.
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Privacy — A Trustworthy Company That Won't Share Your Data9.2
Does Proton VPN Keep Logs? No
Proton VPN doesn’t store any of your important information, and the data it does store is controlled by you. It only keeps the data you give them. This includes the email and user name you provide them, information on the payment method you used, and queries you send to support. So, if you don’t want them to collect your email address, you can create one specifically to sign up. Paying with a credit card will allow them to store the name associated with it and the last four digits. This can be avoided by paying with cryptocurrency or cash. Third-parties process payment info, so Proton VPN never sees your billing info.
Reading through privacy policies for a living, you start to realize when companies are misleading customers with their wording. On the other hand, Proton VPN’s policy was extremely straightforward and transparent about company practices.
The company never voluntarily shares your email or payment info with outside parties. It only needs them to contact you with invoices or ask for you to update payment methods when they don’t work. You can also be contacted about the VPN through email if you opt-in to receive notifications. All of your data is deleted if your account is terminated.
It does not store your internet traffic or any communications. Information about traffic to its website is logged, so it can perform analytics. No personal data like IP addresses are ever logged. In the past, it stored your last timestamp to prevent account hacking, but it no longer does.
It only retains the information you give it to sign-up or questions sent to support
However, it will share the data it has (email addresses, usernames, payment info, and support questions) if compelled by law. These requests have to be approved by Swiss authorities who have some of the strongest privacy laws in the world.
Its policy was put to the test in January of 2019. A foreign country was approved by a Swiss court to request IP information on a Proton VPN customer. Since it does not store any IP data, it had nothing to share.
Proton VPN gives you the option to provide them with as little info as you want. This makes it an extremely safe VPN you can trust to protect your data.
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Open Source and Independently Audited
Proton VPN also has open-source apps, which means anyone can read the code on Github as of January 2020. You can read the source code yourself, which shows how transparent Proton VPN really is.
This is great for security because it lets anyone in the world analyze the code to make sure it stays safe. Proton VPN even has a bug bounty program. It pays up to $10,000 to anyone who can discover a vulnerability in its software, so you know its security is constantly being tested and updated.
The company also had third-party audits done, and the auditors reported it was never possible to decrypt traffic encrypted by Proton VPN. SEC Consult is a leading auditing firm for technology companies, and it performed audits on Proton VPN's apps for Windows, Android, iOS, and Mac. A few medium-risk and low-risk vulnerabilities were found, but each of these was immediately fixed by the company. These issues would have only let a hacker access customers' data if they could physically access their device.
Another third-party audit was conducted in April 2022 by Securitum, a leading provider of security audits in Europe. This one was more encouraging than the SEC audit because it didn’t uncover any major security issues. When I examined the audit, it confirmed that Proton VPN fully adheres to its strict no-logs policy, as it doesn’t collect sensitive information like user logs, server activity, and DNS traffic.
The audit also showed the effectiveness of Proton VPN’s open-source software development. Having an outside company perform audits is important because it shows how confident the company is in its practices, and it can fix any issues the consultant finds.
Proton Technologies AG — A Transparent Company With a Solid History
Proton Technologies AG is a company with a great reputation for protecting customers who depend on its security technology to keep them safe. In 2014, it was formed by a group of scientists working at MIT and CERN. CERN is an innovative scientific research organization — one of its members was even responsible for developing the World Wide Web in 1989. In short, these are people who know their stuff, especially when it comes to the internet. Since Proton VPN and ProtonMail were developed by CERN scientists, you know they operate on cutting-edge technology.
After the success of its ProtonMail technology (an encrypted email service), the team decided to create a VPN when it found other services lacking. Proton VPN was crowdfunded for development in 2017. Proton VPN was transparent about its practices from its inception, even its funding sources were available to the public. Its main goal was to protect journalists and activists when the team became distressed about government tracking threatening online privacy worldwide.
Proton VPN has only received one request for information on its customers. It shared this with all of its customers in its transparency report. Because it doesn’t store any IP info, the data it was compelled to share didn’t exist.
In the past, Proton Technologies AG has spoken out against proposed legislation that would diminish privacy rights. It continues to push back against potential laws that would allow law enforcement to request data. The company also helped gather 70,000 signatures to challenge a Swiss law that would encroach on online freedom. Its dedication to privacy and the ongoing fight against government surveillance makes Proton Technologies AG a company I trust with my data.
Proton VPN is Based in Privacy-Friendly Switzerland
Swiss laws are some of the best when it comes to protecting its citizen’s online information. Every VPN has to be based somewhere, and it’s forced to comply with that country's laws. This is why it’s great to be headquartered in Switzerland, a country outside the EU. The European Union has a history of storing citizens’ metadata due to its Data Retention Directive.
In 2017, a new Swiss surveillance law was passed to help curb domestic threats. The Swiss government conducted meetings with the Proton VPN team. Proton VPN is confident it can only be compelled to share the data it has (usernames, emails, payment methods, and queries customers can control). The surveillance law won’t force the company to hack its customers' data.
Switzerland also has a history of neutrality. It doesn’t cooperate with foreign governments. So, there’s no better place for Proton VPN to be.
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Torrenting - Slow Download Speeds7.0
Proton VPN isn’t a great option for torrenting since it drops your download speeds significantly. It also doesn’t support any extra features (that many other VPNs do) to enhance your torrenting experience, like a SOCKS5 proxy. While the Windows version now supports port forwarding, the same can't be said for other operating systems. In addition, since it only offers P2P servers in 12 countries, you may have a hard time finding one close enough to your actual location to get fast speeds.
You can find P2P servers in the app by looking for the symbol of 2 arrows beside the location. The countries also feature the icon beside them, so it’s easy to see which ones contain P2P connections.
The symbol of 2 arrows indicated a P2P server
The Proton VPN website claims that your connection will be disabled when you attempt to torrent on a non-P2P server. However, I downloaded 5 different files on uTorrent (public domain movies) using free and non-P2P servers, and I was never disconnected.
After connecting to a P2P server (NY#16), I began downloading Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. My download speed in uTorrent was 1.0 MB/s which would let me download the 699 Mb file in about 12 minutes.
I was downloading files 62 percent slower while connected to the VPN
The AZ#5 plus server let me download a little faster at 1.1 MB/s. Not only was this faster, but it made no sense because the server isn't supposed to work for torrenting (it has no P2P symbol next to it) when it did. With no VPN connected, I could download the file at 1.6 MB/s.
These are the 12 countries with P2P servers:
If you don’t live near any of these locations, your Mb/s will be even slower on P2P servers. Testing out Hungary’s P2P server (9,788 km away) my download speed was never higher than 731 kB/s.
It’s possible to torrent with Proton VPN, but because of its lack of torrenting features and slow download speeds, there are other VPNs out there that are much better for torrenting.
Does Proton VPN Work in China? No
Proton VPN was banned by the Chinese government on September 18, 2019. Some VPNs have connections in China by using virtualization software, but Proton VPN only uses bare-metal servers, so this isn’t possible. The Great Firewall of China uses several advanced tools to detect VPNs. For now, Proton VPN can’t guarantee it will work there or in Russia, Turkey, or the UAE.
I reached out to support, and the staff member gave me a list of servers people in China can try:
Due to aggressive restrictions, he couldn't guarantee any of these would work
The full list had 33 servers in total. I really appreciate that the support agent responded with such a large list. They encouraged me to let them know if any of them worked. This was just one more instance where Proton VPN showed me it really does care about online privacy. However, if you need a VPN that consistently works in China, then there are some better options available.