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How to Use Proton VPN

How to Use Proton VPN in 2024: Guide to Paid & Free Version

Privacy-first Proton VPN is free to download, but not everyone knows how to use it. We’ll cover the installation methods on all common operating systems.

Jeremy GanSamuel ChapmanVildana Bratic

Written by Jeremy Gan (Writer)

Reviewed by Samuel Chapman (Editor)

Facts checked by Vildana Bratic (Video Editor, Fact-Checking Editor)

Last Updated: 2024-01-25T11:10:21+00:00

All our content is written fully by humans; we do not publish AI writing. Learn more here.

Key Takeaways: How to Use Proton VPN

  • Proton VPN is compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux as well as mobile devices (iOS and Android).
  • The free plan doesn’t have access to all features and is limited to three server locations, but the paid subscription does.
  • Paid users can use the browser extension to protect the browser’s traffic.

Proton VPN is a free virtual private network (VPN) service by Proton AG, a Switzerland-based company dedicated to its users’ online privacy. It’s the best free VPN on the market due to its generous free plan, which doesn’t have a data usage limit. We’ll show you how to use Proton VPN to binge-watch your favorite shows on all popular streaming services.

Like with most VPN services, getting Proton VPN is simple — you only have to download, install and register for an account before starting. There’s a VPN app for every major operating system, including Windows, macOS, iOS and Android (including Android TV). If you’re interested, read our Proton VPN comprehensive review.

If you aren’t sure how to get Proton VPN and start streaming and protecting yourself, look no further. Besides covering the installation process, we’ll review specific features you can enable or disable. Learn how to use Proton VPN on your desktop and mobile below.

Proton VPN Key Features Walkthrough

Some key Proton VPN features include the kill switch, split tunneling, and multiple secure VPN protocols and profiles. These are available on the free version. On a paid subscription, Proton VPN offers advanced features like Secure Core servers, NetShield ad blocker and other specialty servers like the Tor servers which let you access the Tor network (also known as the dark or deep web) securely via the VPN.

Secure Core servers are essentially multiphop or double VPN servers protected by an extra layer of servers with powerful encryption located in heavily-guarded facilities. Security personnel guard these secure locations from physical threats, making them hard to infiltrate digitally or in reality.

Proton VPN is one of the best VPNs with an ad-blocker, thanks to NetShield –a reliable ad blocker. You can configure it to prevent ads and trackers or block malware, or do both to stop them from compromising your online privacy. NetShield prevents known threats from breaking through its barriers by checking every DNS request against a list.

How To Use Proton VPN on iPhone and Android

Before using Proton VPN on mobile devices, you must get it from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Fortunately, the installation process on both platforms isn’t too different, and you can connect to a VPN server immediately after installing.

  1. Install Proton VPN

    Search for the Proton VPN app from your mobile operating system’s app store and install the Android or iOS app.

    protonvpn google play
  2. Register for an Account

    If you haven’t done so, register for a free Proton VPN account and verify it. Enter your account details and sign in.

    protonvpn register
  3. Connect to a Server

    On the main screen, tap the quick connect button to connect to the fastest server by default or choose from server locations available on your plan. We recommend using the OpenVPN protocol or WireGuard.

    protonvpn mobile interface

How To Use Proton VPN on Windows and Mac

Learn how to install the app for Windows and macOS in this section. We’ll use Windows as our example, but the process isn’t very different on macOS.

  1. Download the Windows or Mac Client

    Visit the official website and download the correct Proton VPN app for your desktop operating system. Launch the installer file to get started.

    protonvpn free plan
  2. Start the Installation

    If asked on Windows, allow the app to download OpenVPN TAP or Windows .NET or both. On either system, continue with the steps and agree to the terms and conditions.

    protonvpn install
  3. Launch the VPN App

    Once you’re done, open the VPN app and create an account or log in.

    protonvpn create account
  4. Start a VPN Connection

    You can now start VPN connections by clicking the quick connect button or choosing your preferred VPN server. No one can monitor your web traffic thanks to perfect forward secrecy and a no-logs policy, which means that there are no user connection logs stored with Proton.

    protonvpn interface

How to Use Proton VPN on Browser

The Proton VPN extension for paid users will only encrypt traffic through your internet browser. The steps vary slightly across browsers, but this guide will help for all those supported. 

  1. Get the Extension

    Go to the Chrome Web Store and search for Proton VPN. Click “add to Chrome” and follow the installation prompts that pop up.

    protonvpn extension
  2. Sign In

    When asked, sign in to your Proton VPN account and enter your two-factor authentication code if you activated this feature. After logging in, start using the extension by simply browsing as normal.

    protonvpn extension log in

How To Change Proton VPN Settings

Proton VPN has a few features on the main screen, but some standard options are only found in the settings menu. We’ll show you how to locate these options on the Windows app.

  1. Click the Triple Bars

    On the Proton VPN main interface, click the triple bars in the top-left corner.

    protonvpn settings
  2. Find the Settings Option

    Choose the “settings” option, which is the fourth choice from the top.

    protonvpn drop down menu
  3. Pick a Tab

    The tabs labeled “general,” “connection,” or “advanced” allow you to customize your Proton VPN experience. For example, you can activate or turn off specific security features, like port forwarding and IPv6 leak protection.

    protonvpn settings tabs

Enabling The Kill Switch on PC

Proton VPN doesn’t automatically activate the kill switch after you install the app. You can activate the regular kill switch on all systems. There is also a “permanent kill switch” on Windows and Linux, which prevents internet usage if Proton VPN isn’t active. Remember that activating this feature stops split tunneling because all connections outside the VPN tunnel are blocked.

  1. Click the Kill Switch Button

    After launching Proton VPN on your desktop, click the kill switch button on top of the server list.

    protonvpn kill switch
  2. Turn the Kill Switch On

    Select “kill switch on” or “permanent kill switch” from the dropdown list.

    protonvpn kill switch on

Enabling Kill Switch on Mobile

Mobile devices running Android 8 and above or iOS have a built-in kill switch in their operating systems, which Proton VPN can use to keep your true IP address hidden. 

  1. Tap the Triple Bars

    In Proton VPN for Android or iOS, tap the triple bars on top and select “settings.”

    protonvpn mobile settings
  2. Find the Kill Switch Option

    Go to “always-on VPN & kill switch” on Android or “security options” on iOS.

    protonvpn mobile kill switch
  3. Activate the Switch

    Locate Proton VPN in the new menu and toggle both “always-on VPN” and “block connections without VPN” on Android or “kill switch” on iOS.

    protonvpn mobile switch activate

Final Thoughts

Using a VPN like Proton VPN isn’t difficult, as the company aims to make privacy accessible to everyone. With the help of strong tunneling protocols, this VPN has established itself as the best among free VPN services. Users can easily start a VPN connection in seconds after installing the app and hide their real IP address.

How is your experience using Proton VPN? Do you think there’s another good VPN service that can compare to it? Tell us in the comment section below. Thank you for reading.

FAQ: Using Proton VPN

  • Proton VPN’s user interface makes it easy to start a VPN connection, and you can get used to the apps after a few minutes of use.

  • Install the browser extension on your Chromium-based browser, log in and connect to any Proton VPN server.

  • Yes, Proton VPN unblocks Netflix effortlessly, even on the free servers. You’ll barely notice you’re using a VPN for your binge-watching sessions.

  • On an iPhone, Proton VPN protects you from online threats by giving you a new public IP address that can’t be traced back to you.

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