- Simultaneous Connections: Up to 10
- Kill Switch: Yes
- Platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Android TV, Chromebook
- Logging: Strict no log policy, except billing data
- Countries: 55
- Servers: 1,287
- Trial/MBG: 30 day
ProtonVPN is another service worth considering for privacy-conscious Brits. It’s a Swiss-based VPN that was started by former MIT and CERN scientists who first launched the encrypted email service ProtonMail in 2014 and started ProtonVPN in 2017.
It doesn’t appear in most top US-focussed consumer VPN lists, but is worthy of consideration in the UK because of its location and record on privacy.
It uses known VPN protocols such as IKEv2/IPSec and OpenVPN. Network traffic is encrypted with AES-256, while key exchange is done with 4096-bit RSA.
ProtonVPN has commissioned audits for all its full-release software from SEC Consult, a reputable Austrian security consultancy.
Being Swiss-based, Proton claims it can’t be coerced by Five Eye alliance nations to hand over user logs.
ProtonVPN applications offer a built-in Kill Switch feature or the Always-on VPN feature.
There’s a decent free version with three locations and “medium” speeds, while the “Basic” costs €4 (£3.41) a month charged at €48 per year (£40.93). It includes 350 servers in 49 countries and allows for two VPN connections on a “high speed” connection. There is also support for blocked content, P2P/BitTorrent support, and NetShield-based adblockers.
The €8 (£6.82) a month VPN package is likely to be the best option for people willing to spend on a decent VPN. It includes 1,200 servers in 55 countries and offers up to 10 VPN connections with speeds up to 10 Gbps.
ProtonVPN delivered respectable performance when connected to a server in New York (92 ms latency, 37/59 Mbps download/upload speeds). On an un-congested LA-based connection, it had a latency of 166 ms, and download/upload speeds of 64/73 Mbps.
ProtonVPN is a solid VPN and it just announced a major speed boost with its “VPN Accelerator” technology for paid accounts with the ProtonVPN app.
The VPN Accelerator speed boost works with multiple VPN protocols, including OpenVPN TCP, OpenVPN UDP, Wireguard, or IKEv2 VPN protocols. It could be a game-changer for high latency servers.
There’s a handy “quick connect” option and connecting to ProtonVPN takes just a few seconds. The UI is helpful too, putting the Kill Switch — if you want to block the internet if your VPN connection drops out — up front, along with the adblocker controls, and its Secure Core option to route data through the privacy-friendly countries. These features are for the paid subscriptions.
The version offers three locations. The instance I tested included servers in Japan, Netherlands and the US.
In my SpeedTest broadband tests of ProtonVPN’s free service, download and upload speeds were about 10 Mbps slower when connected to a server in the Netherlands, which is plenty for streaming HD video. Connecting via Proton’s US servers was a much slower experience on the free option, with download/upload speeds of 10/23 Mbps, and latency of 252ms.
These were the SpeedTest results (ping in ms, download/upload speeds in Mbps) when using Proton’s €8 (£6.82) a month VPN connected to:
- Hong Kong (30, 48/51)
- Australia (30, 35/25)
- Germany (30, 50/13)
- London, UK (29, 40/28 Mbps)
- USA (29, 40/28 Mbps)
Note: Proton’s maps indicated that all connections outside of Europe, by default, went through a server in Iceland as a first hop, which is likely why its latency appears lower than other VPNs.
- It supports a decent free tier VPN service
- Supports more devices than most on a single subscription
- Has undergone publicly available audits and values transparency
- Interface offers shortcuts to key security and privacy configurations
- It is more expensive
- It’s a young VPN service
- It’s server infrastructure is smaller than the well-established brands