Based in Switzerland, Proton Technologies is best known for its excellent email service, ProtonMail. It is therefore in this continuity and with the same philosophy that it approaches the world of VPNs with ProtonVPN. But is this equally convincing?
The essence of ProtonVPN in one table
|💰 Monthly prices||€4.99/month (24 months)|
|💻🌍 number of servers/place||over 1300 servers in 61 countries|
|👨👩👧👦 Number of simultaneous connections||Between 2 and 10|
|📺 Access to Netflix us||Yes|
|⏬⏫ P2P mode||Yes|
Who is ProtonVPN?
Before this VPN project, the Swiss company Proton made a name for itself thanks to its ProtonMail platform. The latter has been defined since 2014 as a healthy and privacy-respecting alternative to the hegemony of web giants such as Google, Apple or Microsoft. ProtonVPN was born from the same philosophy with a focus on protecting activists and journalists using ProtonMail. Today, ProtonVPN is deployed worldwide and the company claims more than 50 million users across all of its services.
Proton VPN has cultivated its difference from the beginning by highlighting its teams of engineers and scientists who work under the same patronage (ProtonMail and ProntonVPN) to make their ecosystem logical and complementary. The source code was also made public in January 2020 to demonstrate its credentials, prompting independent security audits that proved conclusive.
ProtonVPN: A very complete interface
ProtonVPN is a compendium of all the good ideas found in other VPN applications. So on PC, the ProtonVPN application uses the NordVPN world map or the IPVanish speed curve. Whether on mobile or computer, the design is dark and very stylized in a “Hacker” kind of cinema, some will like it, some won’t. If the interface appears loaded at first glance, it is ultimately very readable and can even display many relevant elements, such as real-time flow information (in numerical and graphical form), the protocol used, and the duration of the current session.
The originality of the ProtonVPN application comes from the profiles. Instead of searching for a server on the world map every time you boot, you can ” favorite servers — the famous profiles — to which we assign server types (for P2P, for Tor, etc.) and a name, and to which we reconnect with one click during our next sessions. It’s pretty good to see if we’ve identified servers that are suitable for specific uses.
Other options are accessible without creating profiles, such as the mode kill switch allowing the connection to be broken at the slightest problem to prevent leaks or ” Secure core which corresponds to a more specific multi-hop (or double VPN) mode. In concrete terms, this last mode allows the connection to pass through a more secure intermediate server whose location and legislation guarantee strict protection of privacy. This is the case, for example, for the British Virgin Islands or Switzerland. If this option is active, the application shows the routing of the connection to the target server. Be careful, this still has a strong impact on performance and should only be used for basic navigation.
Other options are accessible in the settings, starting with the choice of the default protocol or the activation of a custom DNS. In the advanced options we find thesplit tunnelingallowing the VPN to target a specific application or, more surprisingly, the activation or not of hardware acceleration by the GPU, where the interface may be cumbersome to manage by an old processor.
But if the interfaces are graphically similar on smartphone and PC, this is not necessarily the case for the features, some of which are still exclusive to mobile platforms. We are thinking in particular of theNetShield” acts as an ad blocker, but mainly for the authorization of LAN connections that allow access to its network devices (such as a printer for example) with activated VPN.
ProtonVPN servers and performance
With more than 1900 servers spread over 61 countries, ProtonVPN does not play the server abundance card. It doesn’t matter, because the goal of this provider is not so much performance or access to foreign catalogs of SVOD platforms as the security of its users’ connection. And yet the speeds are generally very good, as evidenced by our tests carried out on the Nperf site from a Parisian fiber optic connection.
|DOWNLOAD (Mbps)||UPLOAD (Mbps)||ping|
|FRENCH SERVER (PARIS)||658||610||3|
|US SERVER (NEW YORK /OPTIMIZED STREAMING)||105||42||111|
|AMERICAN SERVER (LOS ANGELES)||46||12||202|
|HONG KONG SERVER||59||26||199|
|SOUTH AFRICAN SERVER||11||2||238|
- Tests were performed with automatic protocol assignment
Inevitably, the contribution of the Wireguard protocol plays a huge role in ProtonVPN’s performance. We are also pleased to see that the latency (ping) is quite controlled despite the thousands of miles separating us from the servers, especially with regard to the US servers.
On the other hand, we are a little less surprised if we activate the type of specialized serversPear to pearor dedicated to access to the Tor network that focus primarily on confidentiality and security. Inevitably, performance isn’t always there when the promise is reliability.
Another pitfall: If geolocation abroad via ProtonVPN isn’t a problem, it’s a whole different story when it comes to accessing Netflix’s foreign catalogs. Officially, ProtonVPN is quite capable of bypassing the geo-blocking of Netflix’s American, English and German catalogs. Only specialized servers (with a specific icon next to the server name) allow this. In fact, you often have to fumble around and find the right server that gives access to Netflix US or UK because not all of them necessarily work, hence the interest of profiles. It is therefore necessary to have a minimum of information before starting, where other VPNs skip this step to find the server that corresponds to its use.
ProtonVPN’s data retention policy page is very clear (albeit in English): the provider claims to keep no information about how its users use its VPN servers. The only data ProtonVPN collects is when a user connects to one of its servers (and only the timestamp). ProtonVPN also claims that the company follows Swiss law, where the company is based. While telecommunications companies are required to retain user data for 6 months, the fact that ProtonVPN is a VPN service effectively excludes it from this law.
The firm also makes a point of honoring its commitments, not only in its communications, but also visibly in the facts. As proof of this, Proton VPN has even made the source code public to show their credentials, so anyone can do their own security audit, independent company or not. This even prompted some vulnerability fixes, as stated by the firm Sec Consult in a public report.
ProtonVPN Customer Service
This is undoubtedly the point where ProtonVPN falls behind its competitors, the SAV. Customer service contact is only through a form (entirely in English) and the answers are then sent by email “on average one or two days after the questionWe asked a question in French and the answer came an hour later, written in English.
A very complete and very cordial answer, but where you have to wait a bit longer than with other VPN providers. In addition, no online chat completes the support, where many others already have their own platform, sometimes even in French.
ProtonVPN subscription prices
Proton VPN is perhaps one of the few services in our selection that offers a free, ad-free version. Don’t count on a thunderbolt of war though, as this free one only entitles you to about twenty servers and only 3 countries depending on the location. The next tiers are much more present as the basic offer for 4 euros per month unlocks access to more than 350 servers in more than 40 countries, while offering higher transfer speeds and the activation of the ad blocker.
The “Plus” account is probably the most interesting because it develops all worldwide VPN servers (more than 1900), transfer speeds up to 10 Gb / s and all advanced VPN options such as Secure Core mode and access to the Tor network for 4 .99 euros per month, ie a total of 71.88 euros for the 12-month subscription and 119.76 euros for 24 months. Here is the list of included features:
- Protection for up to 10 devices simultaneously
- Broadband VOD streaming
- Fast P2P/BitTorrent downloads
- Double jump mode (connection through multiple servers)
- Ad blocking and malware protection
- Access the Tor network
- Priority support and live chat
Finally, the last plan, Proton Unlimited is a little more specific because it not only unlocks all the benefits of the previous VPN, but also offers privileged access to other Proton services with, in particular, a ProtonMail Unlimited account that offers, in particular, a secure online email address. 500 GB offers , up to 15 email addresses and 3 personalized email rooms.
Finally, ProtonVPN’s prices are higher than the market average, the service undoubtedly wants to justify its prices by offering its advanced features. They also have the advantage of staying fixed, which is far from the case with many players who regularly inflate or artificially lower prices.