Why choose ProtonVPN
A super secure, powerful, and high-quality mobile app-toting VPN that unblocks most streaming platforms.
iPhone & iPad
Best VPN for
Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer and streaming
Torrenting and downloading
Security and privacy
- Unblocks Netflix, Disney+, iPlayer, Amazon
- Free plan with unlimited data
- Open-source and audited apps
- Pricey paid plans
- No live chat support
Swiss-based ProtonVPN is measurably secure, where others might not be so clearly backed up by evidence. This is thanks to its own servers which use the company's own network. This is the company behind ProtonMail, the popular end-to-end encrypted email service, after all.
But this also has a free version with unlimited data and, in the case of the paid model, unblocks all the popular streaming apps, making it pro-level secure but accessible enough for any user. The 1,061 servers across 54 countries certainly help to keep speeds up too with servers to suit many locations including the likes of Australia, Brazil, Columbia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, and South Korea.
So is this the best VPN for you? Read on in this ProtonVPN review to find out.
Pricing and plans
ProtonVPN is famous for its free plan, so we'll start there. Unlike other free plans, this offers unlimited data bandwidth. Yup, none of that 500MB limit per day nonsense the others have in place – this lets you use as much as you want. That was enough for it to land top spot on our list of the best free VPNs. The catch here is there are only three locations and speeds are below average. But something has to give, right?
For full speeds and all the servers, you'll need to pay. Pricing breaks down into three sections: Basic, Plus, and Visionary. You'll pay a different amount per month depending on how long you sign up for, be it month-to-month, annually, or for two years at a time. For ease, we're listing the default annual pricing here.
The Basic plan will set you back $4 per month, charged $48 yearly. This gets you most features but won't let you access premium servers, won't stream Netflix, can't route traffic through multiple servers, and only supports two devices.
The Plus plan is charged at $96 for the year, the equivalent of $8 per month. This covers five devices at once, offers the highest speeds at up to 10Gb, offers an adblocker, Secure Core VPN (more on this below), TOR over VPN, and access to blocked content like Netflix.
The Visionary plan is the most expensive at $24 per month. This gets you all the above plus access to 10 devices at once and a ProtonMail Visionary account.
Testing and performance
When it comes to the free version of ProtonVPN speeds are definitely below average, but that may depend on where you are since it's limited to just three servers. Jump up to paying though and the performance improves.
For the Basic plan, speeds are still limited but faster. The more expensive Plus plan has the best speeds and that is what we tested on.
In the U.S., performance was at 160 - 200Mb which is decent, but not the best. It's above average for the industry but not going to set any records. HotspotShield was our big hitter here with a top speed of 415Mb.
For the UK, test speeds were averaging the 120Mb mark, which, again, is better than some but not vying for the top spot as the fastest performer. NordVPN, for example, hit 330Mb in our tests.
Long-distance connections are less impressive with speeds of 25 - 35Mb for a UK-to-Australia connection. Of course over that sort of distance, it could be down to factors beyond the VPN itself so we're taking those results with a pinch of salt.
Unblocking is a big part of ProtonVPN as it works for the likes of Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. This is only on the Plus plan that this works successfully regularly though, so keep that in mind.
All the apps are open source and audited with an impressive level of transparency that really leads the VPN market. This means an open-source client too. so there are regular updates with features that are needed.
One feature we like is Smart Protocol, which helps you stay connected even if someone is trying to block your access. So if it can't connect with one protocol it'll try again using another, automatically.
This is a P2P-friendly service making it an ideal choice for anyone that uses torrents. That privacy extends with built-in TOR support for accessing Onion sites.
Split tunneling routes all internet traffic through the VPN and allows for you to then define certain apps or destination IPs which this doesn't apply to. Ideal if you want to keep your banking app outside of the VPN, for example.
Privacy and security
This is a Swiss-based company that runs its own servers on its own network – you can't get much more secure than that. Yet it does, with its Secure Core VPN which routes traffic through multiple servers before it even leaves the network. That means that even high-tech snoopers who are monitoring the exit servers won't actually be able to trace individuals.
The company operates a strict no-logging policy. The Swiss privacy laws also help as it is outside of U.S. and EU jurisdiction and isn't a member of the 14 eyes surveillance network. There's not even session logging to speak off, just a timestamp that's overwritten each time you log in.
You can pay by Bitcoin and although you must give an email address this can be from anywhere. Of course, the company suggests using ProtonMail for maximum privacy.
Should you sign up?
The free version is a great way to get unlimited data if you don't mind the lack of speed. Get the paid options for top features like streaming unblocking, decent torrent support, and some fantastic apps that offer great security and excellent privacy.
The free version might lack some of the speed consistency of the top end providers, so if that's a deal-breaker you may want to look elsewhere on our list of the best VPN services.
We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:
1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).
2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.
We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.
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