From the team that brought you ProtonMail, one of the most popular secure email services on the web, comes ProtonVPN.
ProtonVPN is OK (as you can read below) but we now recommend PrivadoVPN as the best truly free VPN. You can even use a free PrivadoVPN account for torrent downloading 🙂 which you can't do with ProtonVPN. Read our full PrivadoVPN review.
When first introduced, ProtonVPN didn’t quite have the features or infrastructure to compete with the big boys of torrent VPNs. But it’s really come into its own over the past couple years, proving its commitment to both security and usability.
But does it have what it takes to be considered one of the best torrenting VPNs? Let’s take a look.
[+] 'ProtonVPN for Torrenting' contents (select to expand)
Is ProtonVPN Good for Torrenting?
Here are some of the highlights of ProtonVPN for torrenting. If you don’t know what all of it means, don’t worry, we’ll go into more detail in the review.
Comes with a 30-day full money-back guarantee.
Is ProtonVPN Safe for Torrenting?
Here are the features that make ProtonVPN a great VPN for torrenting.
Even the best VPNs occasionally drop a connection, which can be bad news if you’re in the middle of a torrenting session, since it leaves your IP address exposed and your data unprotected.
But with ProtonVPN’s kill switch, your Internet connection will be temporarily cut if the VPN drops, keeping you safe in the process.
DNS Leak and IPv6 Leak Protection
Even without a dropped connection, it’s still possible to leak info on what you’re up to online. That’s why it’s important to have a torrenting VPN that blocks DNS (and other) leaks, like ProtonVPN does.
Find out more about DNS leaks.
No Log Policy
While disguising your IP address and encrypting your traffic will protect your data in the moment, you still could be vulnerable if your VPN keeps logs of when you connect or what you do while connected.
That’s why it’s important to choose a non-logging provider. And ProtonVPN fits the bill. They even underwent a third-party security audit to verify that they don’t keep logs, so you don’t have to just take their word for it.
Privacy-minded folks love open source software. By opening up a program’s coding to public scrutiny, users can ensure that there aren’t any hidden backdoors or vulnerabilities hiding in there, making for an even more secure experience.
Unfortunately, few mainstream VPNs are open source. Which makes ProtonVPN’s recent decision to go open source a big deal.
VPNs are a popular choice for smart torrent users, but not all VPNs appreciate the scrutiny – or the bandwidth usage – that comes with people torrenting with their service.
For this reason, many VPNs ban P2P traffic entirely. Others simply don’t acknowledge it publicly, operating in a sort of gray area (which could leave you vulnerable). But the best torrenting VPNs openly allow P2P – and ProtonVPN is one of them. It’s right there on their site.
Though P2P traffic is blocked on their free plan (but not on the 7-day free trial).
ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland. This is good for two reasons:
- It’s outside of the Fourteen Eyes, which is a collection of countries infamous for their surveillance practices.
- Switzerland has some of the strongest data protection and best privacy protection laws in the world.
Encrypting your traffic, so that third parties can’t read it even if they intercept it, is one of the main ways a VPN keeps you safe while torrenting. And ProtonVPN employs some of the best you can get, with 256-AES encryption across their network.
Another key factor to VPN security is the protocols used. ProtonVPN sticks to the strongest, OpenVPN. In fact, ProtonVPN doesn’t even support older, less secure protocols like L2TP and IPSec – a good thing.
Private Payment Options
ProtonVPN accepts both Bitcoin and cash payments for the truly privacy minded that don’t want to pay by credit card or PayPal.
Want to torrent through a VPN in the background, without slowing down or changing the IP address for the rest of your online activities? ProtonVPN’s split tunneling feature allows you to send the traffic from certain programs of your choice, like a torrent client or web browser, through the VPN, while you surf the web or even play online games through your normal connection.
It’s a helpful feature that not all VPNs offer.
Secure Core Servers
ProtonVPN’s Secure Core servers, which are located in hardened, underground bases (yes, literally) in Switzerland, Iceland, and Sweden, allow users to route their traffic through not one but two VPNs.
Your data will travel first through the Secure Core server, then onto a “normal” server, throwing off any would-be snoops in the process.
While this double-hop feature isn’t that great for torrenting, since it will slow down your Internet considerably, it’s still a nice option to have for even more sensitive activities. And it’s a feature that few VPNs offer.
Perfect Forward Secrecy
What is Perfect Forward Secrecy? Rather than re-using the same encryption keys over and over, ProtonVPN’s keys are never used for more than one session. That means that even if a key was compromised today or tomorrow or 5 years from now, it couldn’t be used to crack your session from yesterday.
Physical Server Security
As we alluded to above, ProtonVPN’s main infrastructure is housed deep underground in a former bomb shelter, like something out of a James Bond movie. Of course, this may not mean much to the average torrent user, but it does provide yet another level of security to their network.
It’s also worth considering that, though ProtonVPN’s server network is smaller than some of their competitors, that’s because they only use physical servers which they have full control over, unlike some VPN servers that simply rent or use virtual servers sight unseen.
ProtonVPN offers all of the features we’d like to see from a torrenting VPN, as well as some extra features that make it one of the safest VPNs for torrenting or any other purpose.
Is ProtonVPN Fast for Torrenting?
If you want to torrent safely, you need a good VPN. And ProtonVPN passes that test. However, the security provided by a VPN can come at a cost: slower download speeds.
The best torrenting VPNs manage to minimize this speed loss into the barely noticeable range, so we put ProtonVPN through the speed test gauntlet to see if it could do the same.
What did we find?
The short answer: ProtonVPN did pretty good.
The long answer: We lost a little more speed when connected to ProtonVPN than we’d like to, but it wasn’t enough to cause problems. And to be fair, our location at the time of the test wasn’t all that close to the servers we were using.
Speaking of servers, ProtonVPN doesn’t have as many total servers to choose from as some VPNs, but it does have a decent collection of countries available, along with P2P optimized servers. You’ll also get unlimited bandwidth on any of them.
ProtonVPN is fast enough for torrenting, but not the fastest, with a good but not great server network.
Is ProtonVPN Easy to Use?
We’ve got to be honest: ProtonVPN’s app is one of the prettiest we’ve seen, with a dark UI that’s particularly easy on the eyes.
And fortunately, it’s got substance to go with its style. Here are some of the highlights of ProtonVPN’s usability.
Easy to Connect
There are several options for connecting, from the Quick Connect button which will automatically link you with the fastest server, to a list of servers by country and also by type for those who want a little more control.
There’s even an in-the-middle option, which allows you to pick a country and be connected to its fastest server based on current server load and your location.
You can also set up auto-connect in the settings, so that the app connects you as soon as it opens.
Simple Sign Up
Sign up is pretty straightforward for new users, especially since you don’t need to enter any payment details to set up a free account (which comes with a 7-day trial for new users).
And it’s even easier if you’re already a ProtonMail user, since you can use your existing account with ProtonVPN. Just log in.
ProtonVPN has a ticket-based support system, and not live chat but in our experience they provided solid reply times and did a good job of answering our questions directly, rather than just giving us a canned response or a link to their FAQ like some VPNs do.
Reddit users in general give ProtonVPN an enthusiastic thumbs up (for examples, see this post or this one on /r/privacytoolsIO/).
On TrustPilot, the reception is a little less warm with ProtonVPN earning 3½ stars for an ‘Average’ rating. But this is based on only a couple dozen reviews.
ProtonVPN is very easy to set up and use.
ProtonVPN Torrenting Tips
As we covered above, ProtonVPN is really easy to use. But there are a few minor tweaks you should make to keep yourself secured.
1. Make Sure the Kill Switch is Enabled, Especially Before Torrenting:
You can find the button to enable the kill switch under the Advanced section of the app’s settings. Keep in mind that enabling the kill switch will disable split tunneling and vice versa.
The DNS leak and IPv6 leak switches should already be enabled, but it’s worth checking to make sure.
2. Use Servers Optimized for P2P When Torrenting:
You can identify these servers by the two-arrow icon next to them.
From there, it’s a good idea to choose a server that’s closer to you, but you can find more tips on choosing a VPN server for torrenting here.
3. Do Not Try Using ‘Tor Over VPN’ Feature for Torrenting:
Although ProtonVPN has built-in, one-click Tor support for routing your traffic through the Tor network and accessing Onion sites, it is not suitable for torrenting. So, go ahead and use it to check out sites on the dark web, but don’t try using it for torrent file-sharing.
ProtonVPN Plans & Prices
ProtonVPN offers a range of plans, from an outright free option to its 25€ (US$28) “Visionary” plan.
While the free plan doesn’t support torrenting or streaming, ProtonVPN does offer a 7-day free trial of the Plus plan, as well as a 30-day money back guarantee, so you can subscribe with full confidence.
They also accept both Bitcoin and cash payments, giving you plenty of options for more private payments.
As for the prices themselves, ProtonVPN is competitive with, if not cheaper than, most of its competitors for short-term pricing. So, if you prefer to pay by the month, you’re in luck.
However, other top torrenting VPNs, like NordVPN, offer some incredible deals for 1, 2, and 3-year subscriptions, which make them a lot cheaper than ProtonVPN in the long run. In fact, NordVPN’s 3-year plan is less than half the price of ProtonVPN’s 1-year deal!
Pricing is one of our few criticisms of ProtonVPN. They’re competitive month-to-month, but we hope they’ll consider introducing better long-term deals in the future.
ProtonVPN provides native apps for:
…all of which are easy to download and install.
It also supports Linux, but you’ll have to set it up using OpenVPN. Though ProtonVPN has created a command line tool to make using it on Linux easier.
More ProtonVPN Uses
You should always use a VPN when torrenting. But that’s not the only thing VPNs are good for. Not by a long shot.
Bypassing Geo-Restrictions for Streaming and Websites
Want to access another country’s Netflix library, or watch Disney Plus in a country where it’s not available? ProtonVPN makes both possible.
It works with all of the major streaming services, including the aforementioned Netflix and Disney+, as well as Prime Video, Hulu, and HBO Now.
Avoid Bandwidth Throttling
Some Internet service providers will cut you off when you’re on a torrenting or streaming spree by slowing down your bandwidth.
However, using a VPN hides what you’re doing online, helping you bypass this kind of throttling.
Protect Yourself on Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi can be a gift and a curse. On one hand, who doesn’t love free Wi-Fi; on the other hand, these public hotspots can be havens for hackers, who use them to infiltrate your system or intercept your data.
Always use a VPN when connecting, whether it’s ProtonVPN or another top VPN.
Avoid Ad Tracking and Get Better Prices When Online Shopping
There’s a reason you often see ads for products that you’re interested in or just searched for when surfing online. Because companies, from social media to online merchants, use your online activities (and even credit card purchases) to create detailed profiles that make it easier to sell things to you.
Browsing from behind a VPN can help you avoid this invasion of privacy. And it can even help you get cheaper prices on things like airline tickets, by buying them from a server in a less affluent country.
Not sold on ProtonVPN? Here are some alternatives, along with quick comparisons for each.
What Private Internet Access does better than ProtonVPN: Cheaper, Longer track record
What ProtonVPN does better than PIA: Advanced security features, Sleeker app
Conclusion: ProtonVPN offers some advanced security features and a more attractive app than PIA, but it comes at a higher price. Compare PIA VPN.
What NordVPN does better than ProtonVPN: Cheaper, Faster, More servers
What ProtonVPN does better than NordVPN: Open source, Cash payments, Physical Server Security
Conclusion: While ProtonVPN holds its own on security features and performance, NordVPN’s combination of price and top-notch features make it hard to beat. Compare NordVPN.
What ExpressVPN does better than ProtonVPN: Faster, More servers
What ProtonVPN does better than ExpressVPN: Advanced security features, Open source, Cash payments
Conclusion: If your privacy is your number one concern, ProtonVPN might get the nod; but if speed is a priority, ExpressVPN is a good alternative. Compare ExpressVPN.
What PureVPN does better than ProtonVPN: Much cheaper, More servers & countries
What ProtonVPN does better than PureVPN: Advanced security features including Tor Over VPN, Open source, Cash payments
Conclusion: PureVPN is cheap, easy-to-use, and has a ton of servers, which makes it a good alternative if you don’t care about ProtonVPN’s advanced security features. Compare PureVPN.
What IPVanish does better than ProtonVPN: Cheaper, More servers
What ProtonVPN does better than IPVanish: More secure, More trustworthy
Conclusion: IPVanish is still making up for its past failures, which makes ProtonVPN the more secure, trustworthy pick for safe torrenting. Compare IPVanish.
ProtonVPN Torrenting Rundown
What makes ProtonVPN one of the best VPNs for torrenting?
Comes with a 30-day full money-back guarantee.
ProtonVPN is looking hard to beat as a torrenting VPN, with impressive security features, an eye-catching app, and affordable prices to boot.