ProtonVPN is unlike many other VPN services mainly owing to its focus on security and the fact that it is comparatively more complex. While the company has tried to walk the often tricky line between usability and complexity, there are some instances where things can get a little too complicated for the average Windows user. You can read our full ProtonVPN review here to get the lowdown on all the various features it has to offer.
In this guide, we will walk you through setting up ProtonVPN from scratch. The objective is to help people new to using VPN services to start using the service in the shortest time possible. However, you will still need to be familiar with purchasing software online…so without further ado lets begin!
Now before you can download and start using ProtonVPN, it is essential to choose and pay for the subscription. You have four subscription types from which to choose. While the freebie subscription is tempting, it offers absolutely nothing and is not even worth your time. If you just want basic protection, then the rightly named ‘Basic’ plan makes more sense. However, those who want to use torrent sites, and enjoy enhanced security should choose between the ‘Plus’ and ‘Visionary’ package. Personally, I’d choose ‘Visionary’ since it is 20% cheaper per month.
You choose a plan by merely clicking on the button below the package you want that will take you to a signup page which is below the package page. Now, this may be confusing because the page isn’t refreshed when you click the package button so you’ll need to scroll down a bit to see it.
Just fill out the form with your username, password, name, and credit card or Paypal information. Once all of that’s done successfully, you should receive an email confirming the purchase. That email will also have a download link to the software.
Downloading the software is accomplished via the download link you may have received in the confirmation email. Just click on the link, and you’ll be taken to the download page. Click ‘download’ save the file to a directory on your hard drive and wait a few seconds. Once downloaded you can proceed with installing the software.
Installing ProtonVPN is pretty straightforward, double-click on the software package you downloaded, and that will kickstart the process. The Setup Wizard will walk you through the steps and once completed it will create a desktop shortcut.
Now if the app does not automatically open up after installation, you can click on the shortcut. Once the software is booted and ready to rock its time to start using it as we’ll look at below.
When the software first boots up it will say “Disconnected” in red above, and to the left, it will read “You Are Not Protected!” with your current IP displayed below it. This signifies that your connection is not yet secure because you’re not connected to a VPN server just yet.
ProtonVPN offers two ways in which users can connect to a VPN server. One is by choosing a profile. If you click on the “Profiles” tab (right next to countries on the left) you’ll see two profiles, i.e. “Fastest” and “Random” there is also an option below that to create your custom profile.
Fastest: This profile hooks you up to the fastest server available at that time. So, if you’re just looking to access a few forbidden websites from your country, this is the quickest way to do it.
Random: This profile option will connect you to any server at random. It can be any country and just about any IP address for that matter.
The other method of securing your internet connection is to directly connect with a server of choice. Click on the ‘Countries’ tab, and you’ll see a whole list of countries where ProtonVPN has established servers. Clicking on the country name like ‘Australia’ will present you with all the Australian servers. Plus it will give you a small pie chart of the load that the server is under.
Ideally, you’ll want to choose one with the least load. Once you find one, just click ‘connect’ and it will take around 5 seconds for the connection to be established. You’ll know this as the software will show that your connection is secure.
By now you’re probably up and running with the ability to access everything from Netflix to Facebook and Twitter without worrying about hackers and spies. However, ProtonVPN offers the option to take your security one step further by using its “Secure Core” technology. All you have to do is to click on the slider right above “Countries,” tab and it will turn on once you are connected to a server.
ProtonVPN offers a couple of other security features you may want to play around with if you click on the menu above and then go to settings. Here is a rundown of what they have to offer:
VPN Kill Switch: Turning this feature on will block all internet connection if the VPN is disconnected temporarily. It is an interesting feature as hiccups in your internet connection can cause data leaks, and this prevents it from happening.
DNS Leak Protection: This feature is on by default. It helps to prevent leakage of information to third parties like ISPs.
Auto-Connect: When this feature is turned on it will automatically connect to the internet as soon as you boot ProtonVPN it connects to a server with all the settings you first chose as part of the profile.
Note: Turning on some features may be beneficial to protecting your privacy. However, features like Secure Core can slow down your internet connection considerably. So, you may not want to have all these features turned on when just trying to access a few social networks or stream YouTube videos.