ProtonVPN is one of the VPN Services offering a Free plan that might provide sufficient security and privacy for most users looking for basic VPN functionality.
ProtonVPN has been around since 2014 and remains free up to this day, though you still have an option to opt for paid plans if you want to. The service provider stays popular because of its fee-free and affordable features.
What is more, ProtonVPN will give you access to a strict no-logs policy, a tri-protocol system, and full-disk encryption with more than 1,700 servers in about 60 countries.
VPN services give users the chance to make the most out of the online world. However, we really can’t deny that it can be costly to avail of a high-quality VPN. So this is where the hunt for the best free VPN starts.
Based in Geneva, Switzerland, ProtonVPN is a VPN service provider known for being one of the apps that offer flexibility, affordability, and security all in one platform.
This was developed by a team of experts, including developers, scientists, and engineers, in 2014. It’s relatively recent compared to other VPN services, but it has already built a stable user base because of its special offers.
For an overview, using ProtonVPN will give you access to a strict no-logs policy, a tri-protocol system, and full-disk encryption. These contribute to the level of security that users can get from the service. It’s also widely accessible, considering that it has more than 1,700 servers in about 60 countries. Finally, of course, let’s not forget the vast compatibility in terms of torrenting and streaming.
ProtonVPN can be used to unlock platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Go, iPlayer, Disney Plus, Youtube, BBC, ABC, and more. In addition, the developers claim that it is compatible with more than 30 apps.
Secure Core, Plus, and Free servers
Secure Core, Plus, and Free servers that differ in terms of streaming support, speed, included features, and availability of hi-tech security technologies.
The app works through three protocols: OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2/IPSec. These ensure that it will be compatible with multiple devices, specifically Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Linux, etc.
Kill Switch and Split Tunneling
The kill switch will protect your data in case of sudden VPN connection issues, and with Split Tunneling, you can expect exclusive features, such as being able to manage browsers, addresses, and apps during use.
|No Logs Policy
|More than 1,700
|Other streaming services
|Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Youtube, Amazon Prime, Disney+, iPlayer, ABC
|Available in China
|Available in India
|Form Submissions, Email, Social Media
|Most Affordable Plan
|Free Plan; For paid plans, $4.99 a month for a two-year plan
|Regular Monthly Plan
|$9.99 per month
|No (A purely free VPN account is available)
|Availability of Discounted Annual Plan
|Yes (100% money-back guarantee for the first 30 days)
|Mobile App Version
|Windows, Linux, Mac
ProtonVPN has a great promise when it comes to streaming speed. They guarantee server networks with a 10 Gbps speed capacity and a VPN Accelerator technology that can further increase the system’s efficiency.
The problem is that the average speed that its users managed to record only comes up to about 40 Mbps or so, sometimes even lower. Others recorded as high as 300 Mbps, but it’s not really the most frequent case. Hence, this will just work on a case-to-case basis like any other.
Still, it will be best not to keep expectations high. This is actually already decent, considering that we’re talking about a free and open-source VPN.
ProtonVPN is compatible with unblocking the most common streaming platforms, both free and paid, so you can rest assured that you won’t be disappointed if you plan on using their service for your streaming needs.
For reference, ProtonVPN can be used to unlock platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Go, iPlayer, Disney Plus, Youtube, BBC, ABC, and possibly even more since the developers claim that it is compatible with more than 30 apps.
What makes this VPN service even better is that you won’t have to go around the app clueless about how you can use it for streaming. This is because you will be provided with readily available detailed yet well-explained instructions containing everything you need to know to connect the VPN app to the streaming platform of your choice.
ProtonVPN has approximately 1,778 servers scattered around 63 countries. These include global locations including, but not limited to, the US, UK, Canada, Australia, the majority of Asia, South Africa, and a whole lot more.
The offered servers come in three types: Secure Core, Plus, and Free servers. These differ in terms of streaming support, speed, included features, and availability of hi-tech security technologies.
You will get the bang for your buck with the Secure Core and Plus features, as these include advanced VPN tools.
However, the most limited one here involves the Free servers, which you will get if you opt for the free plan. It’s suitable for basic VPN needs, and it also has no limit in terms of how long you can use it, but it will definitely come off lacking for other purposes like streaming and torrenting.
Even if ProtonVPN is marketed as one of the most affordable, let alone free, VPN services, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to security. This is actually a given, considering that it is based in Switzerland, the country with one of the strictest laws regarding cybersecurity and general online use.
For one, the app works through three protocols, including OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2/IPSec. These ensure that it will be compatible with multiple devices, specifically Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Linux, and likes.
As of 2022, there are no recognized leaks that happened through ProtonVPN. The only security issue linked with it involves the cases where some hackers copied the app and used it for fraud-related purposes. This issue isn’t related to the official ProtonVPN at all, so we suggest double-checking the specific app that you will download and use.
In terms of the kill switch, the app at hand has a very effective system for this to protect you even in case of a VPN connection drop. However, it’s limited only to Mac and Windows. A different tool is provided in the mobile versions, but the same use is guaranteed.
One of the most notable security features of ProtonVPN lies in its Split Tunneling. This is more advanced and flexible than other leading VPN services because you can expect exclusive features, such as managing browsers, addresses, and apps during use.
Similar to security, ProtonVPN also doesn’t fail its users when talking about keeping a tight privacy system. But, again, this is mainly because of the strict laws that its jurisdiction, Switzerland, implements.
For assurance, the app runs through a no-logs policy. This means that it won’t store or sell your information. The only things that they will collect are your email address and timestamps. They may also have to occasionally your payment details if you use the VPN for transactions. You don’t have to worry, though, since the details that ProtonVPN collects will only include partial and unidentifiable info.
On the downside, ProtonVPN did not go through third-party audits, so we can’t be totally sure of how credible their privacy policies are.
You can access ProtonVPN through its native app version, available for both Android and iOS. Either way, you can expect to get the same features and offers on both apps. The only thing you have to depend on is the plan you will avail of.
ProtonVPN allows a seamless experience in torrenting. Note, though, that this is only possible if you’re using a paid plan. Its free version isn’t capable of a flexible torrenting system.
Going back, the app offers P2P servers to ensure permitted and secured torrenting. So far, no user has experienced issues like terribly slow speeds, leaks, and other similar cases.
ProtonVPN’s customer support isn’t that noteworthy. However, unlike others, they don’t offer quick access to a 24/7 live chat.
Instead, you have to fill out a form to officially reach out to them or send them an email regarding your inquiries. Of course, you can also directly reach out to them through their social media, specifically Twitter. Whichever, there’s still a chance of delayed responses and an overall inconvenient way to get help and answers.
As of September 2019, ProtonVPN has been banned in China to restrict internet freedom. This means that those residing in the said country won’t have access to the VPN anymore and may have to look into other platforms.
There’s good news for those residing in India, though. ProtonVPN stays accessible in the said country through traditional means, specifically through the site or the app.
No matter what plan you avail of, the maximum simultaneous device connections that you can have through ProtonVPN is ten (10). This is somewhat limited since you can find other platforms with the same price, offering unlimited, or at least more than ten, connections.
For an overview, the free plan can only handle one device connection. On the flip side, the Plus Plan allows the maximum limit of ten devices.
ProtonVPN doesn’t offer browser extensions. This is a little inconvenient since you always have to have the app open, no matter if you’re using a mobile or a desktop. Unfortunately, there is still no news about its release or if there even is a plan to release one.
There are three main additional features that you can find in ProtonVPN:
- Perfect Forward Secrecy – this feature is designed to change your encryption key every time you open ProtonVPN automatically. This is a handy security tool since this ensures that if ever a leak happens, only that one browsing session will be at risk and not your future ones.
- Secure Core – a feature that allows the system to use two servers whenever you use the VPN browsing. This makes your data untraceable since the tracker will just bounce back to the first server instead of your authentic source.
- NetShield tool – a collection of blocker tools. This will increase the security level to a much higher state since it will automatically disallow ad displays, malicious sites, and trackers.
Setting ProtonVPN up, installing it, and finally using the app and its services is relatively easy. You can easily install it through the website or your local app store if you’re using a mobile device. Instructions are also provided for the actual installation process, so there’s absolutely no need to worry about getting entangled in complex processes in the long run.
Despite the fairly lacking customer support offered by ProtonVPN, it pays for it through the readily available learning resources and troubleshooting guides from the Supports page of their website. These are free to access. The actual page also has a direct and easy-to-use interface for quick searches.
One of the best things about ProtonVPN is its affordable pricing plans. You can even avail of a free plan if you think this is what suits you best or you just want to try the app out first.
For paid plans, on the other hand, you have the Plus Plan as an option. This already includes all the features that you need to go through. A regular subscription costs $9.99, a one-year subscription costs $5.99, and if you’re looking for a long-term VPN commitment, you can avail of the discounted $4.99 monthly cost.
ProtonVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for those who availed of paid plans, so you can rest assured that your money won’t go down the drain if you ever feel like the service isn’t for you or it just isn’t delivering its claims.
Based on our discussions, here is a recap of the cons that we recognized in ProtonVPN:
- Overpromised Speed – It’s a little uncommon to actually reach the promised speed capacity when using the app unless you’re on the paid version.
- Absence of Third-Party Audits – This is a disadvantage to those who prioritize guarantee and assurance regarding privacy policies.
- Not Available in China – This con is more uncontrollable since the country itself banned the app to restrict its citizens’ internet use.
- No Browser Extension – This has been a long-after sought feature that users want to get from ProtonVPN. However, as of 2022, there is still no news regarding its release, which can be a letdown to many.
- Limited Offers and Features – The overall offers of Proton VPN aren’t designed for advanced VPN needs, and, thus, you should expect that it can be limited. This applies no matter if you availed of a free or paid plan.
Despite the cons, it’s safe to say that ProtonVPN is still worth considering, especially if you don’t have special requirements for using VPN services.
To sum it up, we can say that ProtonVPN is one of the best VPN service providers around. Of course, it’s a given that its free version may come off a little limited compared to the paid plans, but it’s actually already decent for regular VPN needs.
The free version of ProtonVPN is most recommended to mobile users who aren’t looking for advanced tools. If you have more significant needs, then it may be best to opt for its paid plans. You may also want to look into another service provider with better offers if you think your money will get its worth somewhere else.
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