Jurisdiction: Switzerland | Audit: by Mozilla and SEC Consult | Apps for: Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone | Simultaneous connections: up to 10 | Browser Extensions: No | Advanced Features: Kill Switch, Secure Core (Double VPN), Tor over VPN, Dedicated servers for torrenting
Total servers: 1,000+ Servers in 54 countries | Servers in New Zealand: Yes | Servers in Australia: Yes
ProtonVPN NZ Review
With the recent resurgence of interest in internet privacy, you’ve probably heard about VPNs. A VPN is used to help protect your privacy while you navigate the web. While a VPN doesn’t make you completely anonymous, it’ll prevent outside forces and third parties from seeing your data.
New Zealand is very safe as far as internet privacy laws are concerned, but it never hurts to have an extra layer of protection between you and whoever’s out there. In this ProtonVPN NZ review, we’ll be taking a look at whether ProtonVPN NZ is worth your time and money.
ProtonVPN is an ultra-private, high-security VPN that maintains status as one of the larger and more popular VPN providers. While it doesn’t have the highest number of locations or servers, it offers services in more than 50 countries (a sizable and respectable amount). ProtonVPN NZ is also not the cheapest VPN, but they do have an entirely free tier—something that very few VPNs offer at all—and their Basic price tier is comparable to what other large VPN providers charge.
As you may have deduced already, ProtonVPN NZ’s popularity comes from its advanced security features. Without a doubt, ProtonVPN is the largest VPN that has also reached such an intricate level of online security. If you hope to match the ProtonVPN’s levels of security, you’ll almost assuredly have to go through a smaller and more expensive provider.
However, when it comes to VPNs, bigger isn’t always better. Smaller VPN providers are often undeniably better at providing security and privacy. However, ProtonVPN New Zealand is ideal because it allows for a great mix of the features you get from large VPN providers and the protection you get from small providers.
One of the reasons why ProtonVPN is so much more secure than similar VPNs out there today is because they underwent a full third-party audit in January of 2020—something that few VPNs today can (or will) boast. A third-party audit is when a company hires an unrelated entity to perform a full security check of its systems. While internal audits are also possible, third-party audits are more trustworthy because an unbiased, unrelated party performs the security checks.
SEC Consult did the audit, and all four of ProtonVPN’s apps at the time—that’s Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android—were thoroughly tested. If you’re interested, you can look at the full reports of each audit at the corresponding links above, but we’ll translate and condense the results for you below, too.
The audit did expose a few security vulnerabilities, some of which ProtonVPN was unable to fix at the time. However, they may have remediated them since the audit. Overall, though, the audit experienced very few vulnerabilities, and none of them were high-risk.
Do note that, between the time of the audit and the writing of this ProtonVPN NZ review, the company has released a Linux-based app as well. Like all of ProtonVPN’s apps, this app is open source, but note that at the time of this writing, it’s still in its beta stage.
ProtonVPN is full of helpful features, including some that other big VPNs have and some that they don’t. You already know that a lot of ProtonVPN’s best features are security features, but that doesn’t mean they lack quality-of-life features, either! We’ll go over a few of the most important ones in the paragraphs below.
Kill Switch and Always-On
A kill switch is an essential addition for any secure VPN, and ProtonVPN is no exception. As you might have guessed from the name, a “kill switch” stops all of your internet traffic when the VPN itself is not engaged. This prevents your device from sending any of your information out when your VPN does not protect it.
However, ProtonVPN takes it a step further than most normal VPNs by also providing an Always On setting. When you turn it on, a kill switch VPN setting will altogether disable your internet traffic when it detects that the VPN isn’t routing correctly. However, you may need to re-enable traffic yourself from that point on.
An Always-On setting like ProtonVPN has made it so your VPN automatically re-establishes both your internet connection and your connection to a secure server after the kill switch engages. This way, even if your internet browsing is interrupted, it’ll be active again as quickly as possible.
“Secure Core” is a term that is exclusive to ProtonVPN. In essence, the term “Secure Core” is what ProtonVPN uses to refer to servers that it owns as part of its network. These servers are located in Switzerland, Iceland, and Sweden, all countries with stringent privacy laws.
What’s the appeal of Secure Core, and why is it so special? Any VPN can purchase and own their own dedicated servers, so even though it has an unusual name, Secure Core isn’t completely unique. Part of why it’s special is because of these core servers’ locations, and part of it is because those servers are a part of ProtonVPN’s own network.
Essentially, if someone intercepts your internet browsing data with a standard VPN, they may be able to use it to track you back to the data’s original location. However, because ProtonVPN routes its Secure Core data through one or more of these special servers before routing it to other places, that someone can only track your data as far as the Secure Core servers instead of to the source.
Even if someone else tracks your data to these Secure Core servers, and even if they request that data from ProtonVPN, you can rest assured that ProtonVPN won’t (and can’t) give it to them because of the strict privacy laws in these locations.
Do note, however, that you can’t access ProtonVPN’s Secure Core servers unless you subscribe to their highest tier—their “Plus” service. Neither the Basic nor their Free tiers offer Secure Core protection.
Tor Over VPN
If you’re concerned with internet security—which you probably are if you’re reading this guide—you’ve probably heard of Tor. Tor, also known as The Onion Router, is a free browser that takes your security up another notch by blocking your IP address, browsing history, and other data. If you really want to enhance privacy online, Tor is the way to go.
Tor does have its own drawbacks. For instance, since it routes your data through its own servers first, it’s slower than using speed-optimized browsers that don’t care about your privacy. Additionally, Tor isn’t compatible with every VPN. The good news is that it is compatible with ProtonVPN, and the VPN even offers an “easy button” for it.
In actuality, there are two different protocols for using Tor with a VPN: the aforementioned Tor over VPN, and also the unmentioned VPN over Tor. Essentially, the difference between these two is the encryption process that happens first.
With Tor over VPN, your VPN encrypts your data first and sends it through its own servers, then lets Tor do its business afterward. There are pros and cons to each one, but Tor over VPN’s main advantage is that your ISP can’t see that you’re using Tor since your VPN masks it first.
Do keep in mind that you can only use ProtonVPN’s Tor over VPN service with their Plus or Visionary plans, however. That doesn’t mean you can’t use Tor with their Basic and Free plans, but the one-click compatibility isn’t there for either.
ProtonVPN has one more special security feature that helps maintain your internet browsing privacy, and that’s Forward Secrecy. Forward Secrecy, or Perfect Forward Secrecy, is a relatively new advancement in cybersecurity that makes it impossible for a third party to decrypt your data with an old encryption key.
Essentially, the way this works is that ProtonVPN generates a new encryption formula each time you start a session. This means that if a third party manages to figure out that key or otherwise seize it, they won’t be able to decrypt any of your data from past or future sessions with that key.
As a relatively new security feature, not all CPNs offer this—it’s an important feature to look for before you subscribe to a service from any provider.
For most users, ProtonVPN is very easy to set up and run, though just how easy it is depends on how you intend to use your VPN. For example, as you saw above, ProtonVPN offers several standalone apps that make protecting your data security easy, regardless of the operating system on your device.
However, they also offer the capability to run ProtonVPN on your WiFi router. We’ll dive into these capabilities even more below.
Up above, we mentioned that ProtonVPN offers apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and, most recently, Linux (though this app is still in the beta stage at this time). This means that the vast majority of popular devices are easy to set up and connect to ProtonVPN’s network.
What does an app mean for you in terms of convenience and ease of use? Well, as with most VPNs, an app not only protects all of your device’s incoming and outgoing data—not just your browsing data—but it makes connecting as easy as one click, too. All you need to do is download the app on your device, login to your ProtonVPN account, select your server of choice (optionally, your VPN may also give you a “fastest option” or “closest option” to make things even easier), and press connect.
However, this doesn’t mean that ProtonVPN covers every single device out there. For example, some of the more prominent VPNs offer select apps to connect to less common devices, such as TV streaming sticks and smart TVs. However, if you have a WiFi router that will support a ProtonVPN connection, this extra support is unnecessary anyway.
If you only need a VPN for specific times, such as torrenting or browsing the internet, you can always download a browser extension instead of purchasing a full service like ProtonVPN. However, this is not recommended—not as many VPNs offer browser extensions since they only protect your data for that session in that browser and not on your entire device.
If you want to utilize ProtonVPN, you have to either download the app appropriate for your operating system or configure your router to route traffic through ProtonVPN’s servers. ProtonVPN does not offer any browser extensions.
Why should you stay away from browser extensions? Well, for one, all of the VPNs that you’ll find on your browser’s web store are free, which is a big red flag. They also all come from small, no-name companies that offer very little in the way of security guarantees. While they might be able to let you stream Netflix from another country, it’s doubtful that they will be able to protect your privacy if your data becomes hacked or otherwise compromised.
Don’t go to your browser’s web store for a browser extension. If you feel like you need one, some of the larger VPNs (including some we look at later in the article) offer browser extensions for you to download directly from their sites.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of installing ProtonVPN on all of your at-home devices (or you want to protect your other at-risk devices, such as smart appliances and TVs), there’s always the option of setting it up to run over your router. While this is a process that ProtonVPN only recommends for the tech-savvy, the result is that all of your devices are encrypted and protected at all times as long as they’re connected to your network.
Unless your router is sold with an easy setup for VPNs, connecting your router to a VPN isn’t the most straightforward process. Also, not all browsers are even compatible with VPNs, as the technology to mesh with them is still relatively new. However, protecting your entire home is never a bad idea, and if you don’t feel confident doing it yourself, you can always hire a tech expert to configure yours for you.
Installing ProtonVPN on a WiFi router involves “flashing” it, which can cause problems if you don’t complete the process correctly. ProtonVPN provides several guides on their website’s support section to walk you through the process if this is something you’d like to attempt.
Streaming and Torrenting
Streaming and torrenting are contentious activities that aren’t always viewed in a positive light. While your internet browsing activities are your business and your business alone, the important thing here is whether ProtonVPN can protect you while you conduct your business or not. The answer to this question for streaming and torrenting is yes, but with several caveats.
The first of these caveats is that not all of ProtonVPN’s servers support torrenting. If you try to torrent or P2P on a server that doesn’t support it, ProtonVPN will show you an error message. From there, you can route your data through a P2P-friendly server instead, or you’ll have to cease the activity otherwise.
Let’s consider ProtonVPN NZ’s speed. It has P2P-friendly servers in several locations, including Canada and the Netherlands. These servers are designed to handle the extra strain that P2P activities can place on them, so while you might see a slight speed downgrade if the server is far away from you, it shouldn’t impact your activities significantly.
What about streaming activities, then? Well, like many popular VPNs today, ProtonVPN supports un-geoblocking. “Geo-blocking” is something that many streaming services do to limit who can see specific programs on their platforms.
The reasons can be many—a particular region might not allow a specific show.
As you might expect, by selecting a different region with your VPN, you can fool that streaming provider into “thinking” that you’re watching from another region, allowing you to watch shows and movies that wouldn’t usually be available to you.
However, just like with torrenting, ProtonVPN comes with one caveat to this. Only their “Plus” servers are designed to be used with streaming services, so if you’re subscribed to their Free plan or Basic plan, you might miss out. You may still be able to use their Basic and Free servers to un-geoblock yourself, but ProtonVPN advises that certain streaming services may be able to detect that you’re using a VPN if you’re not using a Plus server.
ProtonVPN speed is something to consider as well. While ProtonVPN advises blazing fast speeds with their service, these speeds are also limited by the tier you’re subscribed to. While ProtonVPN doesn’t tell you the exact rates you’ll be getting with some tiers, they are as follows:
- Free tier: medium speeds
- Basic tier: high speeds
- Plus tier: highest speeds (10Gbps)
Essentially, this means that your speeds may be limited with ProtonVPN’s lower-level plans. Unless you have a fiber internet connection to your own home, however, you most likely won’t notice these speed differences. Also, keep in mind that every VPN will negatively impact your connection speeds in some way since a VPN will usually route your data through a longer path than your ISP normally would.
If ProtonVPN isn’t doing it for you, there are a lot of VPN alternatives out there on the market that you can consider. As long as you’re subscribing to a quality service provider, there’s no wrong answer here—you should pick the VPN provider that suits your needs best. We’ll look into a few of ProtonVPN’s biggest competitors below.
Along with NordVPN, ExpressVPN is one of the biggest VPN providers on the market today. The main difference between ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN is the size of the company. While ProtonVPN is still relatively large as far as VPN sizes go, ExpressVPN is enormous in comparison.
One easy way to highlight this difference is with the number of supported countries that ExpressVPN has. While ProtonVPN has 50+, ExpressVPN has 90+. While most users won’t need quite that many countries, users looking for niche geo-locked content or world travelers might find those additional server locations helpful.
However, one of the major things in ProtonVPN’s favor is pricing. ExpressVPN starts at $8.32 USD per month ($11.86 NZD per month), and the length of your payment plan decides their price tiers. They don’t have a Basic tier option as ProtonVPN does.
NordVPN is the other “big” competitor to ProtonVPN. They have very similar offerings to ExpressVPN in that they have lots and lots of servers, and the length of your plan also decides their price tiers. However, NordVPN sets itself apart by offering frequent discounts and deals to consumers.
Depending on the current promotion, you could pay less than $4 per month USD for NordVPN ($5.70 NZD). However, keep in mind that, in most cases, these are promotions only—after the first year or two, the price will jump back to normal.
Do note, though, that as one of the largest VPNs on the market, NordVPN has fallen prey to several potential data breaches in the years since its launch. We know of two confirmed breaches: one in March 2018 and one in October 2019. While a data breach can happen to anyone at any time, it’s important to note that ProtonVPN has never had one (yet).
Note that, unlike ExpressVPN, NordVPN only has server locations in 59+ countries, so their location offerings are much more similar to ProtonVPN. However, they offer app support for a few extra types of devices, including Android TV and several different browsers.
Free Trial and Pricing
While ProtonVPN doesn’t have a “free trial,” so to speak, they offer both a 30-day money-back guarantee and a Free tier that you can try before you buy. Unlike other competitors with an actual “free trial,” you can sign up for ProtonVPN’s free service and use it forever if you want to.
If you can tell you like ProtonVPN’s service from their Free tier, then the next step is to move up to one of their paid levels (if you want to, that is—like we said above, there’s never a requirement to do so). Even after doing this, you can cancel your service before the first 30 days are over and get a full refund if you’re not satisfied.
Do note that ProtonVPN does not have an option to purchase service in New Zealand dollars—they accept payments in USD (United States dollars), Euros, or CHF (Swiss Francs). The prices for their service tiers (excluding the Free tier, of course) are as follows:
- Basic: $4/month USD ($5.70 NZD)
- Plus: $8/month USD ($11.40 NZD)
- Visionary: $24/month USD ($34.20 NZD)
Keep in mind that ProtonVPN’s Visionary plan is only for those who also want to subscribe to their secure email service. The Visionary tier comes with all of the Plus tier’s perks, but with five more device connections and access to the aforementioned email service.
ProtonVPN is dedicated to helping further security on the internet, and this is why they offer a totally free VPN service to whoever wants it with ProtonVPN Free. While this is a very limited version of their regular service, it’s phenomenal if only because almost no VPN providers offer an indefinite free tier.
With ProtonVPN Free, you have access to 3 servers worldwide, and you can only use the service on one device. However, if you can’t afford a VPN (or you’re still researching which one you prefer), this is a great place to start. Alternatively, if you only ever need one active device connection and you’re not that concerned with your connection speed, the Free tier may be all you need.
All in all, it’s pretty clear that ProtonVPN is an excellent option for everyone who’s looking for greater internet privacy—regardless of whether you live in New Zealand or not. However, because of ProtonVPN’s New Zealand servers, this makes them an especially attractive option for residents.
If you want a fast connection, you can connect to one of several of ProtonVPN’s New Zealand servers. If you want something more secure, you can connect to one of ProtonVPN’s servers that routes through a Secure Core first.
While you might pay a bit more for ProtonVPN, it’s undeniable that the rock-solid security that they offer can make up that price difference for some people. Regardless of whether you value security highly or not, ProtonVPN NZ should be on your radar.
If you still have questions that we haven’t managed to answer in this article, then read on—we may be able to address them within the frequently asked questions below.