NordVPN vs ProtonVPN

Bottom Line NordVPN and ProtonVPN are both respectable, well-known VPN companies that can help keep your information and activity private when you're online. NordVPN offers six simultaneous connections, which can be enough to cover your entire family for device uses. To get five or more connections via ProtonVPN, you have to buy the Plus or Visionary packages. NordVPN also offers a big discount if you purchase a year or more of service at a time.

 

But ProtonVPN's Visionary plan lets you connect 10 devices at a time, which may be necessary for small businesses or family homes with a lot of internet users. It also offers a free plan with only one VPN connection, which might be ideal for a single user or someone who wants to try out the service. But you do have to purchase a one-year plan if you're opting for a paid model.

With so many options for residential and small business VPNs, it can be difficult to know where to start when searching for a service. This article provides a breakdown of what to look for when shopping for a VPN as well as a comparison of major features for two high-quality services. After reading this review, you’ll be confident in evaluating NordVPN and ProtonVPN to determine if either is the best choice for you.

How We Evaluated NordVPN vs ProtonVPN

With so many VPNs offering different services and features, you might not have time to evaluate them all. We cut through all the noise to look at these two companies based on what’s most important when purchasing VPN services. Keep in mind as you read that the best VPN for you depends on how you plan on using it.

Common Features We Looked For

1. Security & Privacy This is typically the top feature for many people because, in general, it’s the primary purpose of choosing a VPN. You want to mask identifying information, such as your IP address, when you browse online so that your activity can’t be tracked. A top feature related to security when you’re using a VPN is encryption. Make sure the service you choose has a high level of encryption. Currently, the highest option is 256-bit AES. Other features that can help protect your privacy include no log policies and kill switches.

2. Server Coverage Server coverage refers to how many servers the VPN service has and where they are located. To ensure you have a strong, fast connection anytime you want to use the service, it’s important to choose a VPN with many servers across all types of locations. That way, if one server has a heavy load of users or there’s a glitch with it, you can easily log into another one for better service. It’s also important to have servers all over the globe because that limits how much natural disasters and other factors can impact your access.

3. Performance Hundreds of servers that simply don’t get the job done won’t do you much good, though. When you’re evaluating VPNs, you also want to look at how they stand up to certain performance criteria. You obviously want fast upload and download speeds. Connecting through a VPN will almost always shave a little speed off your connection — it can take a few microseconds to do each encryption task, for example — but a good VPN won’t reduce your speeds much. If you already have a fast internet connection, it may not even be noticeable. You might also want to look at how many simultaneous devices your VPN will support and whether your favorite streaming services and browsers are supported.

4. Price Make sure the VPN fits with your budget. There are some basic free services, and even paid options typically run $3 to $10 a month on average. If you can pay for a year or more at a time, you’re likely to get a steep discount.

NordVPN vs ProtonVPN Comparison

We spent more than 10 hours doing the research so you wouldn’t have to, including finding out how NordVPN and ProtonVPN stack up when it comes to the features that matter. Check out our findings below.

Security & Privacy

NordVPN offers a few levels of security to protect your information and privacy and you work or play online. First, it encrypts data with AES 256-bit encryption, which is the highest level you can get as of late 2020. The service has a no-log policy, so you can rest assured it’s not keeping track of what you do online, so it wouldn’t be able to hand that information over to anyone even if it wanted to. That also means no one can hack the database to find out about your online activity. NordVPN also uses perfect forward secrecy, which means a new key is used to encode your data whenever you open a VPN session. That also reduces the chance that someone can figure out any sort of code or pattern. Finally, this service has a kill switch to shut down unsecured activity if your VPN protection stops working for any reason.

Feature-for-feature, ProtonVPN is a pretty good match for NordVPN when it comes to security. Strict no-log policies, a Secure Core architecture and AES 256-bit encryption all work to keep your information private. ProtonVPN uses 4096-bit RSA for key exchanges for added security and also uses perfect forward security. A kill switch also stops unsecured information exchange if the VPN goes down.

Server Coverage

NordVPN has more than 2,200 servers located throughout the world. There are hundreds of servers in both the United States and Europe, and NordVPN also has servers in locations such as Mexico, Canada, India and other parts of the Asia Pacific region, Africa, the Middle East and South America. You won’t suffer for a good server when connecting via this VPN, and with so many options, you’re likely to be able to connect to a relatively close option.

ProtonVPN has fewer servers, but they’re still spread out globally to support consistent service. It boasts more than 1,000 servers in 54 countries, though not all servers are available on all of its plans. You have to have the Plus or Visionary plan to get access to all the servers. The Basic plan, however, still ensures access to servers across the world in locations including Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and the United States. The Free plan is limited to servers in only three countries: the United States, Japan and the Netherlands.

Performance

NordVPN has a reputation for supporting fairly high speeds. Typically, when you connect to a server that’s very far away from you, you get slower speeds because the data has farther to travel. With NordVPN, that isn’t always the case and some people report speeds that are equally fast when connecting across the globe. You can stream on a wide variety of platforms when using this service, including favorites such as Hulu, YouTube, Netflix, HBO and Disney, and you get unlimited bandwidth, so you don’t have to manage who streams what throughout the month. Unlimited bandwidth also supports torrenting, and the service lets you connect up to six devices at the same time for full-home coverage.

In contrast, ProtonVPN only allows up to five simultaneous connections, though it supports robust speeds that allow torrenting. High-speed connections let you achieve up to 10Gbps, though how fast your VPN connection is does depend on how fast your internet in general might be. ProtonVPN only supports OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec protocols, so it’s not possible to accidently use a less secure protocol if you change manual settings. This service also provides unlimited bandwidth.

Price

Comparing pricing between NordVPN and ProtonVPN can get a bit complicated because ProtonVPN has some unique pricing structures. First, it’s priced in Euros, and the amounts reflected below are U.S. dollars based on exchange rates in August 2020. You also get different services for each of the ProtonVPN plans. For example, it’s the Plus plan that offers 5 connections. The Basic plan only offers 2, and the Visionary plan offers 10.

Comparison Table
PlanNordVPNProtonVPN
FreeNone1 VPN connection with services in 3 countries
1 month, paid monthly$11.95N/A
1 year, paid once annually$6.99/month or $83.88/year$4.73/month for Basic plan
$9.47/month for Plus plan
$28.40/month for Visionary plan
2 years, paid once every two years$4.99/month or $119.76/two yearsN/A
3 years, paid once every three years$3.49/month or $125.64/three yearsN/A

Overview: NordVPN vs ProtonVPN

As you can see, NordVPN and ProtonVPN are both great choices as far as VPNs go. They both provide ample security and privacy, support multi-device connections and ensure high-speed use. When choosing a VPN, though, you must consider your specific needs and preferences. Check out the table below to find out more about the differences between these services so you can make an educated decision if one of them — or another VPN company entirely — is best for you.

NordVPN vs ProtonVPN Comparison Table

Comparison Table
 NordVPNProtonVPN
Free Trial30 days7 days
Customer Support24/7 Live ChatEmail, Ticket
Platform/Browser CompatibilityChrome, FirefoxFirefox, Chrome, Safari, Edge, Opera
Server Coverage5,100+ servers in 59 countries698 servers in 44 countries
Number of Devices65
No-Log PolicyYesYes
TorrentingNoYes
Streaming ServicesNetflix, Hulu, the BBC, YouTube, Prime Video, Kodi, HBO, Disney, ShowtimeNetflix, Hulu, the BBC, YouTube, Prime Video, Kodi, HBO, Disney, Showtime
Security EncryptionAES-256-GCM256-bit AES
Kill SwitchYesYes
Learn MoreVisit NordVPNVisit ProtonVPN