ProtonVPN vs NordVPN (In-Depth Comparison)

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Better Overall
4.8 / 5
  • Advanced security features
  • Multi-platform functionality
  • 5.000+ servers in around 60 countries
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Free Plan Included
Green ProtonVPN logo
4.2 / 5
  • It comes with a free plan
  • Allows up to 10 simultaneous connections
  • Option for using ProtonMail Visionary
  • Works with Netflix

Choosing a VPN from the cluster of service providers on the market can be a real pain in the neck.

With so many alternatives in the industry, it’s hard to pick one.

So, instead, I chose two and decided to make a comparison so that you can create a well-rounded decision for yourself.

I opted for ProtonVPN and NordVPN because they are both competent VPN providers, yet they kind of put the focus on different things. While one’s most praised feature lies in its free plan, the other one is feature-rich and offers advanced VPN solutions.

By the end of this comparison, you will see ProtonVPN and NordVPN’s strengths and weaknesses, and get the right idea on which provider fits your needs.

Let’s begin.

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Why ProtonVPN and NordVPN Out of All VPNs?

I based my decision around a few main things you need to opt for in a VPN.

In the comparison below, you are going to see how both NordVPN and ProtonVPN ranked in these criteria.

Security and Privacy Should Be Your Initial Concern

Security is often measured through the VPN protocol and encryption.

The current market’s standards revolve around the OpenVPN security protocol combined with AES 256-bit encryption.

I usually go one step further and check things such as the provider’s capability of providing leak protection, whether it has a kill switch or not, etc.

In the comparison below, I will also tackle the privacy aspect of both NordVPN and ProtonVPN through several main criteria.

Server Range and Unblocking Capabilities

If you want a VPN for streaming or accessing blocked content on the internet, the servers play a huge role in your choice.

While a comprehensive server range is a pleasant addition, the VPN should also be capable of unblocking the content you want to reach.

NordVPN and ProtonVPN have clear differentiations on this matter.

But more on that later.

Speed is Important

VPNs slow down your internet connection, some more than others.

It’s crucial that you choose a VPN that can provide decent speed rates, enough so that you won’t notice a huge difference or get frustrated with buffering.

Affordability & Good Value for the Money

Finally, I also care about the financial aspect of VPNs, as I don’t want to overpay for a provider.

For me, the VPN should not be too expensive and possibly offer a free trial or a free plan.

But how do NordVPN and ProtonVPN stand on this matter?

Keep reading to find out more.

ProtonVPN vs. NordVPN: Features & Comparison

Market Popularity

Let’s start this comparison by examining how these two providers rank in terms of popularity.

NordVPN has been in the business longer than ProtonVPN, so it comes as no surprise that it’s also the more popular option. NordVPN has been one of the leaders in the industry for quite some time now, thanks to its advanced properties and many benefits.

But despite the lower popularity, ProtonVPN remains a relevant option for many users around the world, and, as you will see below in the article, it can be excellent for people who want an affordable yet secure VPN.

Winner: NordVPN

Jurisdiction & Privacy Policy

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If you are a privacy freak like me, then you’d want to know that a VPN’s principal way of providing privacy is by establishing a zero-logging policy. But it should not be limited to this.

For better privacy, the following things are also very important:

  • The location of the service provider, as well as the laws and regulations in the country;
  • Whether it offers private means of payment, such as cryptocurrencies.

NordVPN is based in Panama. For VPNs, this is possibly one of the best locations because of the country’s loose privacy policies. The jurisdiction does not require for NordVPN to store any logs on you as a user of their service.

Backed up by this, NordVPN does not, in fact, keep any logs.

The company has a stick zero logs policy. For more elaborate information on this matter, you can check their privacy policy.

nordvpn logging policy

Finally, I believe that you will appreciate NordVPN’s payment options.

The service provider enables payment with cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin.

This way you get an extra layer of protection over your privacy, and you won’t have to provide personal or credit card information.

As you probably already know from my ProtonVPN review, this service provider is based in Switzerland.

Switzerland is not part of the 14 eyes surveillance alliance and does not fall under the EU data retention laws. You will often hear that this is also one of the best locations for VPNs.

I wouldn’t say I entirely agree with this, because the country has some strict data retention laws. However, in practice, these laws don’t seem to obstruct the users’ privacy.

If you open ProtonVPN’s privacy policy, you will see that the provider logs only the bare minimum, such as your account data and some billing information.

Your sessions won’t be monitored and logged, except the timestamps of your last successful login.

data protonvpn monitors

Despite this, I’d say that ProtonVPN logging policy is excellent for privacy-conscious users, and I like that they also have the option to pay with Bitcoin.

Overall, both options provide excellent privacy, but NordVPN is in a slight lead over ProtonVPN because of its location.

Winner: NordVPN

Security Features

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It’s safe to say that both providers are very secure.

However, let’s dig deeper and see how they can protect you online.

NordVPN offers several security protocols. The company focuses more on keeping the users fully protected, and has left out some of the less secure VPN protocols such as PPTP.

It also offers military-grade AES 256-bit encryption and a kill switch.

What I really like about NordVPN is that they don’t stop there and offer much more than the basic VPN security features.

The feature-rich provider comes equipped with malware protection, DDoS protection, and even double encryption, something that you don’t see very often in a VPN.

ProtonVPN supports the same protocols, OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec, and it comes with AES 256-bit encryption.

The provider doesn’t fall much behind NordVPN in terms of overall security features.

ProtonVPN offers a kill switch, split tunneling, Tor over VPN, etc

Still, when you compare their overall features, NordVPN ranks better because it has more advanced options available in all price plans.

Winner: NordVPN

Server Coverage

If you want to bypass geo-restrictions and online censorship, a larger server network can be more beneficial to you. It increases your chances of accessing more diverse content.

More servers are also a nice addition for streaming, gaming and torrenting.

NordVPN has an evident advantage over ProtonVPN when it comes to both the number of servers and the overall server distribution.

As I have already mentioned in my previous Windscribe vs NordVPN article, it has over 5200 servers, in 59 countries around the world.

The provider also has a list of obfuscated servers that you can use to bypass some of the most robust online restrictions.

For example, thanks to these servers, NordVPN works in China, which is something that not many VPNs can achieve.

ProtonVPN, on the other hand, has a modest server network with 568 servers in 43 countries.

Its free plan, which I will discuss again further in the article, has only 3 available servers.

Winner: NordVPN

Is Torrenting Allowed?

In both cases, torrenting is allowed, although with some restrictions.

NordVPN does not enable it on all of its servers, but there are enough P2P optimized servers to choose from, and they will do the work just fine.

ProtonVPN can be used for torrenting on some server locations.

However, the provider has a smaller server range, so, naturally, it also has fewer P2P friendly servers. The free plan does not come with P2P supported servers.

Winner: NordVPN

Unblocking Streaming Providers with NordVPN and ProtonVPN

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Unblocking more popular streaming service providers such as Netflix or Hulu has always been one of the biggest challenges for average VPNs.

But NordVPN is not an average provider.

In fact, it’s one of the best options for streaming, and as you can see, it works with pretty much everything.

ProtonVPN, to my surprise, also works with some of the major streaming services.

It’s not as strong as NordVPN, but it still showed some amazing results. 

To access streaming providers with ProtonVPN, you need to choose one of their optimized servers for streaming.

You can find more information on this through ProtonVPN’s Support Center>Access Content.

protonvpn access content

Winner: NordVPN

Device Support & Simultaneous Connections

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NordVPN supports the most used operating systems and devices, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. It also enables browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

NordVPN supports up to six simultaneous connections.

From what I’ve seen during my TunnelBear vs NordVPN analysis, to use NordVPN with more devices, you can always configure and install the software on your router.

Proton VPN is available on desktop for Windows, Linux, and macOS devices, and via apps for iOS and Android devices.

When it comes to simultaneous connections, it really depends on which subscription you are going to get.

The free plan comes with only one device. With the paid price plans, you can choose between two, five, and ten devices. The last alternative, however, comes at a hefty price.

If you don’t want to be limited, ProtonVPN also grants the option of installing the VPN on your router.

Winner: NordVPN

Which VPN Is More Affordable?

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One of the things that immediately stands out is ProtonVPN’s free plan.

It’s limited, as expected, but this is still an excellent alternative if you are on a tight budget.

With ProtonVPN’s free plan, you get access to servers in three countries, and you are limited to one device only. One thing I don’t like is that, with this plan, you get somewhat slower speeds, but this is still a pretty good deal.

If you don’t want to be limited so much, you can always go with one of the other premium alternatives. ProtonVPN has three other price plans that vary in price based on the features they offer.

Their most expensive one is $24 per month, which I think is farfetched for a VPN.

But then again, this feature is for people who want to get ProtonMail Visionary and ProtonVPN in one subscription plan.

ProtonVPN’s subscriptions come with a 30-day money return policy.

protonvpn pricing

NordVPN, on the other hand, is cost-effective, and you can get the service with all of its advanced features for as low as $3.49 per month.

But the downside is that NordVPN does not have a free plan or a free trial.

The only compensation to the lack of free plan/trial is NordVPN’s 30-day money refund policy.

Features aside, it’s very rare for popular VPNs to offer free plans, and the fact that ProtonVPN does makes it a better alternative in terms of affordability.

Winner: ProtonVPN

Which One is Faster?

One of the main things that can make or break a VPN is its speed.

It’s important to find a provider that won’t cause you headaches, and provide you with a smooth online experience, without buffering and slow connections.

Without VPN:

speed without vpn

With NordVPN:

The test results before and after using NordVPN’s servers do show an insignificant difference.

There is a slight downfall in speed, as well as increased ping time, but it’s something inevitable that happens when you connect on a distant server.

However, what I really like is that the U.S. server is fast enough for me to stream in HD and Ultra HD, although it’s the most distant one from the other servers I checked.

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nordvpn connected to nearby server
nordvpn connected uk
nordvpn connected us

With ProtonVPN:

I was very surprised when I checked ProtonVPN’s server speeds.

They come close to NordVPN’s speed, and keep in mind, NordVPN is one of the fastest solutions on the market.

The U.S. server even showed slightly better speed rates with ProtonVPN, than it did with NordVPN.

However, I really didn’t like the fact that when I tried the Quick Connect button on ProtonVPN it connected me to a nearby server that is clearly slower than every other I tried.

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protonvpn connected nearby server 1
protonvpn connected uk
protonvpn connected us

Overall, I am satisfied with both VPNs, although I would still go with NordVPN, mainly because the provider has more servers and slightly higher speed rates.

Winner: NordVPN

Customer Service

ProtonVPN does not have a live chat. That was the initial thing I noticed when I opened their website for the first time. Usually, when I am trying out a VPN, I contact the customer support for quick info. Needless to say, I did not like this.

Still, ProtonVPN has responsive email support, and you can find a lot of information on their knowledgebase.

NordVPN, on the other hand, has a 24/7 live chat, and you can also contact the support through email. The email support is a bit slower, but usually very efficient. Sometimes you might have to wait up to a few hours until you get your problem resolved.

If you are in a hurry, NordVPN has a very helpful knowledge base, and I particularly like their tutorials.

Winner: NordVPN

Overall User Experience

The installation process of both NordVPN and ProtonVPN goes smoothly.

Chances are, you won’t need any assistance. However, in case you do need it, you can find helpful tutorials on the providers’ websites.

NordVPN has an easy-to-use interface, with a map of all server locations.

You can connect to a server either by clicking on the map or choosing one on the server list from your left.

The server list includes a special section for servers that support torrenting, as well as Dedicated IP addresses.

nordvpn ui
nordvpn dedicated ip

For any other options and advanced settings, you can click the Settings button on the upper right corner. Here, you can change the security protocols, enable or disable the kill switch, connect to an obfuscated server, etc.

Overall, I like how NordVPN made everything so simplistic and user-friendly.

ProtonVPN is super easy to use as well.

The provider has a slick design that also incorporates an easy-to-access server map.

They have their options on your upper left side of the interface. Here, you can change the general, connection, and advanced settings.

One thing that differentiates ProtonVPN form NordVPN is the Session traffic counter at the bottom, which is a nice addition.

protonvpn interface
protonvpn advanced settings


Is ProtonVPN Safe?

As far as security goes, ProtonVPN is a safe VPN service provider. It comes with AES 256-bit military-grade encryption on OpenVPN protocol. Also, it’s leak-free, and has a kill switch.

Is NordVPN Free?

NordVPN is a premium provider, without a free plan or a free trial. However, it comes with a 30-day money-return guarantee.

Which VPN Is Faster?

Between the two, NordVPN is faster. Speed test results show that NordVPN has consistent server speeds with minor speed reduction on more distant servers. ProtonVPN, on the other hand, falls behind, but can still be used for everyday online activities.

Does ProtonVPN Sell Your Data?

No, ProtonVPN does not sell your data. Both free and premium plan users get the same level of privacy protection, which does not involve selling or endangering your personal data.


ProtonVPN and NordVPN are different, so it should be easy for you to decide on one that fits your needs more.

Overall, NordVPN is a clear winner as the provider showed better results in the comparisons, and it proved to be a reliable choice with advanced VPN features. If you made your decision, and you want to get this VPN, you can also get a discount by using this link.

However, ProtonVPN, despite some limitations, has one thing that makes it worth your while – a free subscription. If you want a free temporary solution, you won’t make a mistake by putting your trust in ProtonVPN’s hands.

No matter what you decide, both providers will protect your privacy and keep you secure online. And, at the end of the day, that should be your primary concern.

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