ProtonVPN comments please

I am reluctantly (because it is another layer of complexity that I do not understand,) considering a VPN as I sometimes want to access unknown websites from my phone. As a newcomer to the whole matter I wondered about initially using a free VPN such as ProtonVPN to test its ease of use and effectiveness before committing to a paid subscription. Does anybody have some general comments about ProtonVPN? In addition, can anybody say which particular aspect of the app relies on a non-free service?

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nonfreenet antifeature - means you can only connect to their servers, you are not “free” to use with their app the server of “your choice” from elsewhere or self-host, etc

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Thanks. I presume there is no way of knowing what their servers do with the data apart from the claim to not share it.

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Proton-mail ended up rewriting their Terms after sharing an activists IP with LEO/LEA so… who knows?

This is the way these services work unfortunately.

As usual, you can only trust your own servers on your own hardware. :man_shrugging:

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Aggregate statistics of legal orders that we have received can be found below:

    Number of legal orders: 6,995
    Contested orders: 1,038
    Orders complied with: 5,957

per Transparency report | Proton

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As I thought. It’s a matter of blind trust.

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That’s fair enough. I can’t expect them to defy local laws.

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re legal compliance:
It goes a few ways:

  • they are responding to more than they should.
  • others are lying that they aren’t responding to them.
  • others are the government, so they aren’t receiving any and therefore don’t have any to respond to.
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Well I installed the free ProtonVPN as a trial. I’ll have to see if it is worth keeping.

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Out of curiosity, how would you even know? How do you even test? :slight_smile:

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There is no way I can test its effectiveness in terms of privacy etc. I can assess how obstructive it is accessing websites, and what it might prevent me doing.

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A VPN doesn’t magically make your privacy better. I would say for most users it doesn’t really help, because browser fingerprinting. Don’t just install it because the ads tell you to do so. Ask yourself two questions:

  • Do I need to access content that is geo-blocked?
  • Do I trust the VPN company (probably outside my country) more than my internet provider (which is bound by data protection laws)?

If the answer to both is no, you probably don’t need a VPN.

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The VPN is only for use when I am away from home and connecting to public networks.

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wireguard vpn is so easy to setup on a cheap vps i always recommend that to people. there is a script on github to set one up on any linux distro using apt. it even prints the vpn config out to a qr code in your terminal that you can scan with your device.

i use proton email for many ‘official’ things as an alternative to gmail. do i trust them though?


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Thank you for your suggestion. I looked at the Wireguard web site and found it to be utterly incomprehensible, while scripts and github are equally meaningless for me. If an application will not install itself without intervention from me I look elsewhere for a way to achieve my aims.

understandable. if you just want to access unknown sites etc, why not just use tor browser or orbot? they’re available by default from the f-droid app iirc.

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Then don’t complain if they fooled you later…


I use the free ProtonVPN along with the Location Changer app available in the Play Store only when I want to view a program (local news or sporting events) unavailable to me because I am on vacation or I know a sports event is being aired for free only in the state that the event is being played in. I used the free ProtonVPN a lot early on and as others have said it (as is any VPN) can only do so much as far as hiding your identity and any “free” versions are extremely slow during peak hrs. as your not the only one opting not to pay thus, there servers get bogged down big time.
I now use Orbot for an extra layer of protection as it will send most apps through the Tor Network and if I’m wanting to surf the web in private I use the Tor Browser.

Download Orbot here in play store:

Download Tor Browser here in play store:

Download Location Changer here in the play store:

Orbot is in the Guardian Project repo, why use Play store?

And we have FakeTraveler | F-Droid - Free and Open Source Android App Repository in F-Droid too… again, no need for Play links…

Orbot, Tor browser and Fake GPS are not in the F-droid repository, which is the only one I am using until I get to know my way around smart phones some more.