What is ProtonVPN
ProtonVPN is a Virtual Private Network service from ProtonMail developers. ProtonMail is a popular encrypted webmail service created in 2013 by CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). Servers and headquarters are located in Switzerland.
The biggest and most famous advantage of the development team is their focus on privacy and security. ProtonMail differs from many services in the ability of end-to-end letter encryption (by analogy as in modern messengers). Correspondence between ProtonMail users is always encrypted automatically. In general, the team has a very good reputation on the Internet.
Therefore, when the launch of a VPN service from the same company was announced in the spring of 2017, this was significant news that bypassed all IT portals. The service itself started in the summer. In addition to paid accounts, by analogy with ProtonMail, the service also had a free tier, but with limited registration. It was necessary to apply for an invite. I have long been eyeing the option of using VPN (especially on mobile devices and at risk of blocking a favorite messenger). Bid filed in July. And yesterday, on August 24, an invite came, by which I immediately registered. In the bottom line, between a request for an invitee and its receipt, it took about a little more than 1 month.
Today, paid VPN services are enough; comparing paid versions is not very interesting. In my opinion, if privacy and independence are needed, then it’s best for you to raise your own personal VPN from any foreign cloud provider for $ 2-5.
Therefore, I will describe exactly what is offered in a free account :
- You can choose a VPN server in 3 countries: the Netherlands, USA, Japan
- Restriction on 1 simultaneous connection
- Low speed priority
The paid option for $ 4 per month removes the restriction by country and extends the limit of simultaneous connections up to 2, but, subjectively, to use the free tier just on the phone is enough.
Installation, configuration and pitfalls on iOS
ProtonVPN doesn't have its own iOS program yet. To connect, they propose to use OpenVPN Connect (hereinafter simply OpenVPN Connect) and upload a connection profile from ProtonVPN. Although the site has detailed instructions for setting up, but I ran into a pair of pitfalls. Further I will also describe how to get around them better:
- OpenVPN associates with itself files "* .ovpn" (files with connection profiles). Files with a profile setting need to be downloaded from the ProtonVPN website, but mobile Safari, when saving files, calls them simply “Unknown” without an extension, and it’s unclear how to open them in OpenVPN. OpenVPN simply does not see them. The problem is solved by downloading the file with a normal browser. I downloaded profile files on a stationary computer and sent it to myself through mail, although this method is considered less secure.
- In the list of profiles for download you cannot immediately see in the general list or filter the servers and countries available for free users. Personally, I ended up having the Netherlands, the United States, and Japan, which were in different parts of the list.
- For a login through OpenVPN, you must enter a special login and password that are generated on the ProtonVPN website and a problem arises. Suppose you successfully copied and pasted login. After switching to Safari to view and copy the password, the OpenVPN login / password input field will be cleared. Reddit came to the rescue, where there was a super life hacking. After you have entered the login, you need to click on the connection to the VPN. The program will try to connect and, naturally, without a password it will be disabled by timeout (30-60 seconds). The most important thing is that after such a login field will no longer be cleared when switching between programs, and this will allow you to copy and paste the password normally.
Even in the AppStore there are a lot of reviews that OpenVPN does not work, but I have no problems besides the ones described above.
Quality of work
Works fine. "Necessary" sites opens. Speed through the Netherlands is 11 Mbit per download and 17 Mbit per upload. Why is upload speed higher? Probably due to the loading of the VPN server. I think that through the USA and Japan all speeds will be lower. Also, I assume that over time the speed will drop as new users become available. But as a service for testing, in my opinion, everything is OK.