All our VPN apps use secure VPN protocols:
- Windows: OpenVPN, WireGuard®
- macOS: OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard
- Android: OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard
- iOS/iPadOS: OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard
- Linux: OpenVPN
You can use OpenVPN in UDP or TCP modes. UDP is faster, but TCP is more reliable and can be effective at defeating certain kinds of censorship.
Our Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS/iPadOS apps also support the Smart Protocol anti-censorship feature. This intelligently probes networks to discover the best VPN protocol configuration required for optimal performance or to bypass censorship.
For example, it can automatically switch from IKEv2 to OpenVPN, or OpenVPN UDP to OpenVPN TCP, using different ports as required.
Smart Protocol is enabled by default in all apps that support it and must be disabled to manually change VPN protocols. In this guide, we show you how to enable or disable Smart Protocol and how to manually change VPN protocols.
1. Open the ProtonVPN app and go to ≡ → Settings → Connection tab → Default Protocol.
2. Select Smart (Protocol), OpenVPN (TCP), OpenVPN (UDP), or WireGuard from the dropdown menu.
A system extension is required to use alternative VPN protocols and/or Smart Protocol on macOS.
1. If you are installing the app for the first time, you will be prompted to allow this extension the first time you run the app (jump to step 2).
If you are upgrading from an older version of the app, you will be prompted to do this the first time you select OpenVPN, Wireguard, or Smart Protocol in Preferences.
To do this, open the app and go to the menu bar → ProtonVPN → Preferences → Connection tab and select Smart Protocol, OpenVPN (TCP), OpenVPN (UDP), or WireGuard from the Protocol dropdown menu.
2. A window will open to help guide you through the process. Click Begin configuration to continue.
3. When the System Extension Blocked window opens, click Open Security Preferences.
4. This opens the macOS Security & Privacy settings. Click the lock and enter your password or use Touch ID to unlock your Security & Privacy preferences. Then click Allow next to System software from application “ProtonVPN” was blocked from loading.
5. Select both ProtonVPN checkboxes and click OK.
5. Click OK in the confirmation dialog box.
6. In the Preferences → Connection tab, you can now select your preferred Protocol from the dropdown menu, or choose Smart Protocol.
Is root access or special permissions required to change VPN protocols in macOS?
No. When you first change to the OpenVPN or WireGuard protocols (or Smart Connect), macOS creates a new network service and a new System Extension is installed. As a security feature, macOS asks to authenticate these changes with a password or using Touch ID.
This does not require root privileges, and none are asked for.You can verify that a new ProtonVPN network service is created by going to Settings → Network.
1. Open the ProtonVPN app and go to ≡ → Settings.
2. Toggle the Smart Protocol switch on or off. To manually select your VPN protocol, toggle it off.
3. If Smart Protocol is disabled, you can manually choose which VPN protocol to use. Tap the name of the VPN protocol you are currently using.
4. Select the VPN protocol you would like to use from the list.
1. Open the ProtonVPN app and go to Settings → Security Options and tap the Protocol currently being used.
3. Select a VPN protocol (or Smart Protocol).
Run the tool from a terminal window:
Select a country and server. You will then be prompted to Choose a protocol. (Note: At the moment, the ProtonVPN Linux CLI only supports OpenVPN UDP and OpenVPN TCP.)