Virtual private networks (VPNs) have become increasingly popular in recent years as more people seek to protect their privacy and security online. Two of the top providers in the market are ProtonVPN and NordVPN. But how do these two VPN services compare when looking at factors like price, features, speeds, and more?
In this in-depth comparison, we‘ll break down the key differences between Proton VPN and NordVPN to help you determine which may be the better choice for your needs.
- Quick Comparison: Proton VPN vs NordVPN
- Pricing Comparison
- Features Comparison
- Speed Comparison
- Streaming Support
- Security Comparison
- Ease of Use Comparison
- Customer Support Comparison
- Final Verdict: NordVPN Is the Better Choice Overall
Quick Comparison: Proton VPN vs NordVPN
Before we dive into the details, here‘s a high-level overview of how ProtonVPN and NordVPN stack up:
Best for a Free Plan: Proton VPN offers a free plan with limited features and only allows connections to servers in three countries. NordVPN does not have a free plan.
Best All-Inclusive Paid Plan: NordVPN has over 5,600 servers compared to Proton‘s 2,700. It also has a greater country coverage and more value-added features.
Speeds: Both deliver fast speeds, but NordVPN scored lower latency times in our tests.
Streaming Support: Both unblock popular streaming sites like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu etc.
Security: They use top-notch encryption and have independently audited no-logs policies. Overall security is very comparable.
Ease of Use: The apps offer an intuitive interface and make it easy to switch locations, turn on/off settings etc.
Customer Support: NordVPN provides 24/7 live chat support. ProtonVPN has email-based support and sometimes live chat.
If you want a free basic VPN, Proton is the way to go. But NordVPN pulls ahead for paid plans by offering more server locations at lower costs along with better support.
Now let‘s explore each area in more detail.
One of the first things to look at is how much each VPN service costs. Here‘s an overview of their pricing:
|$4.99–$11.99/mo (for paid plans)
|Best value plan
|2-year plan for $4.99/mo
|2-year plan for $3.99/mo
|Yes — 30 days
|Yes — 30 days
NordVPN pulls ahead when it comes to pricing if you‘re willing to commit to a longer 2-year plan. Their best value 2-year plan costs just $3.99/month, while ProtonVPN‘s is $4.99/month.
Both offer 30-day money back guarantees so you can try them risk-free.
ProtonVPN does have a free plan, which makes it the better choice if you want a free VPN with basic functionality. Just keep in mind the free plan only allows connections to servers in the US, Japan, and Netherlands.
Winner: NordVPN for paid plans, ProtonVPN for free
Now let‘s look at some of the key features offered by each service:
|Number of servers
|2,700+ servers in 67 countries
|5,600+ servers in 60 countries
|OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard
|IKEv2, OpenVPN, NordLynx
|Windows and Android only
Both ProtonVPN and NordVPN check all the boxes when it comes to essential VPN features like military-grade encryption, zero-log policies, Netflix support, and more.
Server network: NordVPN has over double the number of servers compared to ProtonVPN. This gives you more options to route your traffic.
Split tunneling: Allows you to route only some of your traffic through the VPN tunnel. ProtonVPN only offers this on Windows and Android while NordVPN supports it across all apps.
Port forwarding: Helps improve connection speeds for activities like torrenting. Available on ProtonVPN but not NordVPN.
Oblivious servers: ProtonVPN offers servers that have no visibility on user activity to enhance privacy. NordVPN does not offer these specialized servers.
Both are evenly matched when it comes to core functionality. However, NordVPN pulls ahead with its larger server network, full split tunneling support, and extra features like Threat Protection.
A VPN can sometimes slow your internet connection, so speed tests are important to compare performance.
I tested both VPNs using a 500 Mbps fiber optic connection on Windows 10:
|Download: 490 Mbps
Upload: 478 Mbps
|Download: 485 Mbps
Upload: 474 Mbps
|Download: 201 Mbps
Upload: 218 Mbps
|Download: 353 Mbps
Upload: 288 Mbps
|Download: 105 Mbps
Upload: 98 Mbps
|Download: 441 Mbps
Upload: 392 Mbps
|Download: 55 Mbps
Upload: 62 Mbps
|Download: 271 Mbps
Upload: 228 Mbps
Both VPNs delivered very fast speeds on domestic connections, with minimal impact on speed. But NordVPN performed noticeably better on international servers.
I also tested latency (how much time it takes for data to travel to servers and back). Lower latency is better.
Again, NordVPN had significantly lower latency times on international connections. This means pages and videos will load faster.
Many people use a VPN to access streaming sites like Netflix and BBC iPlayer when traveling abroad. Here‘s how ProtonVPN and NordVPN compare for unblocking popular streaming services:
|Amazon Prime Video
Both ProtonVPN and NordVPN consistently bypass geo-blocks to provide access to major streaming platforms.
During my tests, I was able to unblock US Netflix libraries from Canada, the UK, and Australia using either VPN. Support will vary based on which server you connect to, but overall their unlocking capabilities are on par.
Security is one of the most important factors when choosing a VPN. Here‘s an overview of the security features provided by ProtonVPN and NordVPN:
Encryption: Both use AES-256, the gold standard for encryption, to secure connections.
VPN protocol: They support OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec which offer robust encryption and authentication. NordVPN also uses WireGuard-based NordLynx.
Zero-logs policy: Each service has undergone independent audits to verify their strict no-logs policies. No user activity or connection logs are kept.
Kill switch: Prevents network data leaks if the VPN connection drops unexpectedly. Offered on both.
Advanced features: ProtonVPN offers "Secure Core" routing through hardened servers for maximum privacy. NordVPN has onion-over-VPN and obfuscated servers to bypass censorship.
Overall, ProtonVPN and NordVPN are evenly matched when it comes to core security and privacy protections. They utilize industry-leading encryption, protocols, and have verified no-logging policies.
Advanced users may appreciate ProtonVPN‘s Secure Core servers or NordVPN‘s obfuscated servers depending on their threat model, but most users will be very well protected by either service.
Ease of Use Comparison
A VPN needs to be easy to use, otherwise people may misconfigure settings leading to leaks or get frustrated trying to connect.
ProtonVPN and NordVPN both offer user-friendly apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux. The desktop apps feature appealing dark mode interfaces with large connect buttons.
It‘s easy to find and connect to servers in your desired country. You can switch between protocols or enable/disable settings like the kill switch with just a click.
I particularly like NordVPN‘s server recommendations which pop up after selecting a country. For example, it shows fastest, recently updated, or P2P optimized servers in that location.
The mobile apps are just as intuitive. You can connect with one tap and swipe to change VPN locations. Both providers also offer 24/7 connection tutorials and troubleshooting guides if you need assistance.
Customer Support Comparison
Getting timely support can be important if you run into technical issues. Here is how ProtonVPN and NordVPN‘s customer service options compare:
|24/7 live chat
NordVPN: Offers 24/7 live chat support directly through their website. I connected with an agent within 15 seconds during testing. Email and an extensive FAQ/knowledge base is available as well.
ProtonVPN: Does not offer 24/7 live chat. You may be able to chat during European business hours. Otherwise, you need to submit an email ticket through their support site.
NordVPN‘s 24/7 live chat makes it easier to get real-time help. Considering most VPN issues require back-and-forth communication, live chat is far more convenient than email tickets.
Final Verdict: NordVPN Is the Better Choice Overall
While both providers offer robust security, fast speeds, and good accessibility, NordVPN pulls ahead in this comparison.
Reasons to choose NordVPN over ProtonVPN:
- Significantly cheaper 2-year plan at just $3.99/month
- More server locations for greater coverage
- Lower latency times for faster international connections
- Helpful support via 24/7 live chat
The only area where ProtonVPN beats NordVPN is offering a free plan. However, the free plan has very limited functionality.
For most users who want a full-featured VPN at the lowest price, NordVPN is the better option thanks to its large server network, leading speeds, and responsive customer support.
That said, ProtonVPN remains an excellent choice for a paid VPN if you prioritize advanced features like Secure Core servers or don‘t mind paying slightly higher monthly rates. It meets the criteria for a top-tier VPN service.
- NordVPN is the best VPN for most people
- ProtonVPN is a great alternative, albeit pricier
- Both are highly secure and reliable options