The creators of the Swiss-based VPN service promise the same level of trust, transparency, and communication that has been fundamental to the success of ProtonMail.
ProtonVPN ships with four subscription plans, of which the first is entirely free. It is limited in regards to speed, devices that you may run it on simultaneously, and the number of countries you can connect to. It is not limited in terms of bandwidth however.
Update: ProtonVPN has been swarmed by users and demand for its product. The free version uses a waiting list now. New capacities are added according to the creators.
The first paid plan, ProtonVPN Basic, is available for 4€ per month. It lets you connect to all servers, supports connections on two devices at the same time, and offers high speed.
ProtonVPN has three speed tiers right now. Low for free accounts, high for basic accounts, and highest for the Plus and Visionary subscription. There is no information on what this actually mean in terms of transfer speed. The most likely explanation for that is that there is no transfer speed cap, but that the free account is limited automatically based on the number of users that connect to a server. Basic, Plus and Visionary subscribers get access to other servers, and there is likely a cap on how many can connect to these at the same time to provide good transfer speeds for all users.
The two remaining plans, ProtonVPN Plus and Visionary, for €8 and €24 offer the highest speed, five or ten devices that you may connect from simultaneously, as well as extra features such as Plus servers reserved to these plans, Secure Core which adds extra protection against VPN compromise by routing through the Secure Core Network of ProtonVPN, and Tor Server support to send all traffic through Tor with a single click.
The Visionary plan on top of that includes a ProtonMail email account on top of all that. Free users get an option to join a 7 day free trial of ProtonVPN Plus.
Secure Core is an interesting feature, as it routes traffic through multiple servers before it leaves the ProtonVPN network. This means that anyone monitoring the exit server won't be able to detect the IP address of ProtonVNP users, nor match browser activity to that IP address. Secure servers are located in Switzerland, Iceland and Sweden only.
Secure Core protects your connection by routing your traffic through multiple servers before leaving our network. This means an advanced adversary who can monitor the network traffic at the exit server will not be able to discover the true IP address of ProtonVPN users, nor match browsing activity to that IP.
ProtonVPN encrypts all traffic with AES-256, uses 2048-bit RSA key exchange, and HMAC with SHA256 for message authentication.
Other security related features that are supported include Forward Secrecy, use of OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols only, a strict no logging policy, DNS leak prevention, and Kill switch support. ProtonVPN supports P2P traffic on top of that.
ProtonVPN comes with clients for Android and iOS, Windows, Linux and Mac. Users of the service may also configure OpenVPN by downloading OpenVPN configuration files.
The ProtonVPN Windows client installs without issues. You need to supply your account credentials to start using it. It displays the current connection status, and the available locations you can connect to.
Once you have established a connection with a click on a country, or one of the available servers, you see additional information in the interface.
This includes the connected server, IP address, up and download speed, server load, a world map with information on the server location, and session information.
As far as options are concerned: you can enable the VPN Kill Switch in the options, change the default protocol from UDP to TCP, and configure auto connect options.
Another interesting feature of the ProtonVNP client for Windows is support for profiles. You can create profiles, and use these profiles to connect to specific servers quickly. This includes, connecting to the fastest available server of a country.
ProtonVPN is one of the best, if not the best free VPN options right now, hands down. Since you are not limited in terms of bandwidth, you can use the free account all day and night long. That's good enough for all web browsing and low speed activities that you can run on your system.
You should not expect to get enough bandwidth out of the free plan to stream in 4K or download very large files quickly, but that is to be expected of a free service.
It remains to be seen how well the network will handle the onrush of new users who will certainly flock to the service now that it is out of beta and available to the public.
ProtonVPN Plus and Visionary seem pricey, especially when compared to services that charge less for a lifetime subscription than ProtonVPN does for six months. Still, the extra privacy and security options are one of the best options that you have when it comes to maximum privacy on the Internet.
Now You: Have you tried ProtonVPN? What's your take on the service?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.