ProtonVPN Swiss-based VPN launches

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 20, 2017
Updated • Jun 21, 2017

ProtonVPN, a VPN service by the makers of the privacy focused ProtonMail email service, is out of beta testing and now available to the public.

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.

ProtonVPN Review

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.

  • Forward Secrecy -- ProtonVPN uses encryption cipher suites that have Perfect Forward Secrecy. New keys are generated with each connection, and it is impossible for past sessions to be decrypted if an encryption key from a subsequent session is compromised.
  • DNS Leak Prevention -- This prevents that connections to the default DNS servers of the system are made to prevent leaks.
  • Kill Switch -- This feature, disabled by default, blocks all network connections if the connection to the VPN network is lost. This is done to prevent that Internet resources are accessed using the device's regular IP address.
  • Tor support -- Plus and Visionary subscribers may route their traffic through the Tor anonymity network 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.

ProtonVPN Windows client

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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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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