Proton VPN NetShield: what is it and why should you use it?

Graphic of Proton VPN NetShield protection on smartphone
(Image credit: Proton)

The online world could be a dangerous place. And, unfortunately, not even the best VPN services can protect you from all its risks. 

Every time you open a website, you come across annoying ads and other web trackers. These are not only disturbing your online experience, but they also are hungry for collecting your data for commercial, or worst, malicious purposes. 

This is why one of the most secure VPN services around, the Swiss-based Proton VPN, has added a shiny new ad-blocker to its offer. NetShield can indeed secure your sensitive information against malware, web trackers and invasive ads. 

You don't even need to pay any additional fee for using it - you do need a paid plan to enjoy the feature, though. Below, everything you need to know. 

What is Proton VPN NetShield? 

As mentioned above, Proton VPN NetShield is its own VPN ad-blocker feature. 

It secures your data by blocking privacy-invading ads and web trackers seeking to monitor your activities. It even prevents your device from being infected with malware

Not just protection, though. Since NetShield stops your device from loading unnecessary material, this ultimately results in better connection speeds overall. 

How does Proton VPN NetShield work?

Every time you want to access a certain site or app online, you need to type or click on an URL - a human-friendly version of a web page. This is then translated into a more machine-friendly IP address-based request via a DNS.  

When you have Proton VPN turn on, it encrypts all your DNS requests inside its VPN tunnel to prevent any data leaks. In turn, NetShield uses DNS filtering techniques to check out any website you want to open for ads and any other invasive trackers. It checks both for malicious domains and any additional resources associated with that webpage. 

Contrary to some of the best ad-blocker software around, Proton VPN NetShield blocks ads and trackers from the entire device, rather than just on your browser. 

You can choose between two different levels of protection. Opting for Block malware only, your data are secured against host malware, spyware, or other malicious software. While, pick the option Block malware, ads, & trackers to have a full round protection. You can also turn off the feature if you wish to do so by clicking on Don’t block.   

Proton VPN's interface on smartphone and desktop

(Image credit: Proton)

How much does NetShield cost?

Proton VPN NetShield comes together with its VPN software. However, it is an exclusive for paid subscribers only. 

Choosing a 2-year plan, you can have the complete package for what it works out to be, only a monthly fee of $4.99 (opens in new tab).

What's more, there are some additional reasons to opt for a paid plan instead. 

If you are after a reliable streaming VPN, for example, you should know that only Proton Plus customers can enjoy its unlocking power. The same goes if you need a secure torrenting VPN. You will have a huge array of international servers to choose from, too - Proton VPN Free users can connect to servers based on three locations only. 

In terms of security, Proton Plus subscribers can also enjoy the protection of its Secure Core servers and the Tor over VPN option, its handy integration with Tor Browser.  

Do any other VPNs offer a similar feature?

Proton VPN is not the only provider adapting with an ever-changing digital world and its threats. 

Another DNS filtering solution, also ExpressVPN Threat Manager is a block app trackers included with any Express VPN subscription. While, NordVPN with its Threat Protection feature even scans every file you download from the internet to eliminate the ones infected before damaging your device. 

Other premium VPN providers integrating an ad-blocker tool into their VPN app include one of the best cheap VPN around Surfshark, Atlas VPN and Windscribe.

Is Proton VPN NetShield a deal breaker?

Swiss privacy and excellent streaming performance (opens in new tab)

Swiss privacy and excellent streaming performance (opens in new tab)
Proton VPN is one of the top VPN providers on the market right now, and with features like NetShield it'll appeal to those seeking maximum protection online. However, it's also proved to be very effective for unblocking Netflix and other geo-blocked streaming sites, and is now a very compelling all-rounder.

Chiara Castro
Staff Writer

Chiara is a multimedia journalist, with a special eye for latest trends and issues in cybersecurity. She is a Staff Writer at Future with a focus on VPNs. She mainly writes news and features about data privacy, online censorship and digital rights for TechRadar, Tom's Guide and T3. With a passion for digital storytelling in all its forms, she also loves photography, video making and podcasting. Originally from Milan in Italy, she is now based in Bristol, UK, since 2018.