StrongVPN made many much-needed improvements in the last couple of years, including a complete overhaul of its apps. What used to be a buggy, tedious, and confusing interface is now clean and intuitive.
But will it be enough to keep up with the competition in a crowded market? And does the 20% discount StrongVPN is currently offering make it a good buy?
In my 2020 StrongVPN review, I wanted to learn how this VPN stacks up against the competition and what makes it stand out from the crowd. I tested StrongVPN apps on both desktop and mobile to find out:
- How fast is StrongVPN?
- Can StrongVPN unblock region-locked streaming services (Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, Prime Video)
- Is StrongVPN secure and private?
- Does StrongVPN work in China?
- Is StrongVPN good value for money?
I’ll cover all this and more in my review.
I spent time using StrongVPN to unblock videos, secure public wi-fi connections, torrent files privately, and protect devices in my home office during the coronavirus pandemic.
Check out the summary of what I think about StrongVPN below, or read the full review to get an in-depth look at this veteran VPN provider.
StrongVPN is a versatile service that’s very user friendly, even for beginners. It bypasses China’s Great Firewall, unblocks a handful of popular streaming services, and offers the security and privacy necessary to torrent with peace of mind. It’s not a top performer in most categories, but it’s a solid all-rounder for the price. StrongVPN is also one of the only VPNs to support the Wireguard protocol. Every subscription comes with SugarSync, a cloud backup service.
Reader discount Save 20% (coupon code applied automatically with this link)
StrongVPN Key data
|OVERALL RANK: #9 of 42 VPNs|
|Average Speed *:||71 Mbps|
|Video Streaming Support:||SD, HD, 4K (NA only)|
|Other Streaming Services:||Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Prime Video US|
|Log Policy:||No logs|
|Value for Money||
|Lowest Monthly Cost:||$5.83|
|Money Back Guarantee:||30 days|
How does StrongVPN compare to other popular VPNs?
Here’s how StrongVPN compares to two other popular VPNs on the market, CyberGhost and NordVPN. You can see a detailed rundown here of NordVPN vs CyberGhost.
|Average speed *||44 Mbps||58 Mbps||17.9 Mbps|
|Encryption Type||256-bit AES||256-bit AES||256-bit AES|
|Kill Switch||Desktop only||excluding Android|
|Records Identifying Logs|
|Unblocks Netflix US|
|Unblocks Amazon Prime|
|Unblocks BBC iPlayer|
|Lowest monthly cost||$5.83||$2.75 per month||$3.49 per month|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||45 days||30 days|
StrongVPN pros and cons
Here’s a summary of what I like and don’t like about StrongVPN.
- Unblocks Hulu and US Netflix
- Bypasses China’s Great Firewall
- Simplified interface
- No logs
- Ample security
- SugarSync backup included
- Waning support for manual configuration
- Few server locations available
- Some users might find minimalist design limiting
- Slow speeds outside North America
I’ll go into more detail about all of these points in this article.
Speed: Is StrongVPN fast?
StrongVPN operates more than 950 servers in about 40 countries. That’s almost double the number of locations since my last review, but still fewer than many competitors. Most of the servers are in North America and Europe, with a smattering in Asia, South America, and Africa.
StrongVPN performed well in day-to-day use. We encountered no issues or mid-playback buffering when streaming 1080p video. We were also able to play fast-paced online games with very little to no lag when connected to the default “Best Available Location” server.
I ran speed tests at various time per day on StrongVPN servers in North America, Europe, and Asia. Across all locations and times tested, StrongVPN averaged a download speed of 71 Mbps. That makes it one of the fastest VPNs on the market:
Here are the average speeds for StrongVPN servers in each region:
- North America (“Best Available Location”): 101 Mbps
- Europe: 53 Mbps
- Asia: 59 Mbps
Those results make it one of the fastest VPNs available—if I want to connect to a US location. When connected to other regions, however, speeds are about average.
Note that these tests only serve as a general indication of the performance you might experience and cannot be considered definitive. The inherent volatility of the internet adds a significant factor of randomness. Users with faster connections will likely see larger discrepancies in speed.
Apps: What devices work with StrongVPN?
A single subscription enables you to connect up to twelve devices at one time. That’s about double the number of concurrent connections as most of its competitors. Apps are available for:
- Amazon Fire TV
Although StrongVPN has streamlined and improved its apps for all these platforms, it has tapered off support for Linux, routers, and other devices that require manual configuration.
StrongVPN doesn’t make any web browser extensions as of time of writing.
The desktop app features a world map that’s there for aesthetics more than anything else. You can’t click on a country on the map to connect to it. Instead, clicking the location button beneath it brings up a list of server locations sortable by city or country. The default option is “Best Available”, which automatically selects a location according to proximity and server load.
The servers aren’t labeled according to use case, which makes finding one for a specific purpose a bit tedious. For example, you just have to guess which ones unblock Netflix or contact customer support to ask. There’s also nothing to indicate latency, bandwidth, or current server load and capacity.
The mobile app looks almost identical to the desktop app with smartphone dimensions. It’s available on Google Play and the Apple App Store for Android and iOS, respectively. The interface is similar to that of the desktop version, with a map, your time connected, your current IP address, and a location picker.
The StrongVPN mobile app includes a split tunneling feature that allows you to select which apps use the VPN and which do not.
The app is very lightweight and easy to use. For most people, the simplified interface is all you’ll need to get up and running, but more advanced users might find it a bit limiting.
StrongVPN utilizes its own private DNS servers and even offers a standalone smart DNS proxy service, dubbed StrongDNS. We won’t delve too much into the StrongDNS service in this review, suffice to say you can use it to unblock geo-locked content but won’t get the privacy or security bundled with the VPN. If your device doesn’t support VPN apps but does allow you to alter the default DNS servers, this could be a good alternative for unblocking geo-restricted content.
Streaming, Netflix, and Kodi
StrongVPN unblocks US Netflix. Netflix has blacklisted most VPN servers, resulting in a playback error that most providers can’t bypass. We tested it on Netflix in a web browser and on the Netflix mobile app for Android. Whereas most VPN providers struggle with the Netflix app, StrongVPN unblocked US-only videos with ease.
We were able to unblock Netflix on the first server we tested, but that’s no guarantee that they all work. We recommend contacting the live chat customer support service to ask which servers work with Netflix if you’re struggling to find a compatible server.
In addition to Netflix, StrongVPN unblocks Hulu and Disney+ both on a web browser and on the official app. I had intermittent success with BBC iPlayer in a web browser when connected to a UK server. Amazon Prime Video could also be unblocked, but only in a web browser and not via the Prime Video app. Like Netflix, finding a server that works depends on a bit of trial and error or asking customer support.
Kodi users should have no issues using StrongVPN with any Kodi add-on. A Fire TV app is available for Firestick users, but Linux-based Kodi devices can’t use the app, and there’s not much support for manual VPN setup.
Does StrongVPN allow torrenting?
StrongVPN doesn’t explicitly mention torrenting on its website. That’s probably because the company is based in the US, where VPNs must tread carefully when it comes to copyright infringement.
StrongVPN’s terms of service state:
“It is our policy to terminate in appropriate circumstances the accounts of subscribers who infringe the copyrights of others. You may not upload, download, post, publish, transmit, reproduce, or distribute in any way, files, material, information, software or other material obtained through the System that is protected by copyright or other proprietary right or derivative works with respect thereto, without obtaining permission of the copyright owner or other right holder.”
Basically, you’re not allowed to use StrongVPN for piracy.
That being said…
Not all torrenting is piracy. So while piracy is forbidden, torrenting is not.
StrongVPN is a no-logs provider, meaning it doesn’t store any details of what you do online, nor any identifying information like IP addresses or timestamps. So if I torrent something while connected, StrongVPN keeps no record of it.
I had no issues using BitTorrent to download files through StrongVPN.
Security, privacy, and logging
StrongVPN is based in the USA, which might put off some prospective users worried about the NSA and FBI spying on them. That being said, StrongVPN says it does not store any traffic or connection logs of any kind. If a government or other entity requests customer activity data from StrongVPN, it will have no information to hand over.
StrongVPN recommends using either Wireguard or IKEv2 protocols in the latest versions of its apps. IKEv2 is growing in popularity across the industry, especially on mobile devices. IKEv2 can get connected and reconnect very quickly, and doesn’t suffer from any known security vulnerabilities.
Wireguard is a newer open-source VPN protocol that claims to be leaner and faster than older protocols like OpenVPN. StrongVPN is one of the only VPN providers to include Wireguard support in its apps.
OpenVPN is a solid open-source protocol that’s also available, along with L2TP and SSTP.
StrongVPN’s new apps use the following security parameters with OpenVPN in TLS mode:
- AES-256-CBC channel encryption
- 2048-bit Diffie Hellman RSA key
- SHA256 authentication
- Perfect forward secrecy
IPSec’s Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP) provides data integrity, encryption, authentication, and anti-replay attack functions on IKEv2 connections:
- AES-256 channel encryption
- 8192-bit Diffie Hellman MODP key
- SHA512 authentication
- Perfect forward secrecy
Both protocols and their associated encryption suites will provide more than enough security for the vast majority of users.
An internet kill switch is built into the desktop apps, but not the mobile apps. Furthermore, it can only be enabled when using the OpenVPN or L2TP protocols. The kill switch will halt all internet traffic going to or from your device if the VPN connection unexpectedly drops, preventing unencrypted data from leaking outside the VPN tunnel. This is particularly useful for P2P filesharing when you don’t want to expose your real IP address.
DNS leak protection is not explicitly listed, but StrongVPN did not leak any DNS or WebRTC traffic during our tests. Securing WebRTC is particularly notable, as many VPN apps fail to prevent WebRTC leaks. WebRTC is a protocol used for voice and video chat and is enabled by default in many browsers. Even with microphone and camera permissions granted, StrongVPN did not leak WebRTC on either desktop or mobile.
Does StrongVPN work in China?
Yes, StrongVPN works in China. It should bypass the Great Firewall on any device, but the desktop apps offer traffic obfuscation that makes OpenVPN traffic more difficult to detect. This obfuscation feature is called “Scramble” and can be toggled on in the settings.
StrongVPN will unblock censored sites like Facebook, YouTube, video streaming sites, and western news sources from mainland China. Likewise, it should work in other countries that censor the web.
Note that the StrongVPN website is blocked in China, so be sure to sign up and download the apps ahead of your visit.
See out full list of VPNs working in China
StrongVPN offers live chat and email support on its website, and staff are available to answer questions around the clock.
It took less than a minute to get a support rep on the live chat on a weekday afternoon. I asked a few questions about what server locations worked best with particular streaming servers. A technician was brought in to answer some of my queries, who took another minute or so to join the conversation. I received prompt and accurate answers.
The website contains manual setup guides, troubleshooting tips, and an FAQ section. These are a bit lean and really only scratch the surface of a few basic support topics.
Prospective customers can choose from two plans, both of which offer the same service and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. The only difference between the two plans is whether you pay monthly or yearly. The monthly plan costs $10 per month and the yearly plan $5.83 per month, both of which are higher than when I last reviewed StrongVPN. Those prices are fairly middle-of-the-road when it comes to VPNs. If you happen to need a cloud backup solution, the included SugarSync service adds significant value.
StrongVPN accepts all major credit cards, PayPal, Alipay, and bitcoin. The only other information needed to sign up is an email address. If you want to anonymously purchase a subscription, you could use a burner email and properly mixed bitcoin.
Save an additional 20% on any plan
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StrongVPN operates out of the US since 2005. It might be popular among the expats living in China, but other than that, it keeps a low profile.
Why Choose StrongVPN
Perhaps, this helps them stay below the radar of streaming giants like Netflix. StrongVPN offers servers in 47 cities across 26 countries, support for multiple protocols including OpenVPN, zero logs, cross-platform support, and up to five simultaneous connections. Glossy on the surface, it turned out to be a pain to use. Here is why.
Best VPN for
- Netflix, Hulu, and streaming online
- Torrenting and downloading
- 7-day money-back guarantee
- Live chat support
- Good speeds
- Unblocks streaming services
- Complicated setup
- Difficult to use with OpenVPN software
- Non-intuitive client, convoluted customer dashboard
- ToS does not explain how the provider handles connection logs
- Too much personal information required at sign-up
- Login/password is emailed in plain text
- Leaks WebRTC
Pricing and Plans
Without offering a short free or even paid trial, StrongVPN leaves you with no choice but to subscribe to a $10 monthly plan, if you just want to dip your toes into these waters.
A three-month subscription is priced at $24 while an annual plan is $70. You can pay with PayPal, Bitcoin, credit card, and AliPay. A seven-day money-back guarantee should cover all your first-time purchases.
Once my payment went through, I received a welcome email – attention – with my login and password in plain text. Not only was I unable to set my password when subscribing, but they also sent it to me in plain text. That’s odd approach from a privacy-focused provider.
StrongVPN offers native software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. But setting up the service requires inhumane patience, live support assistance multiplied by trial and error. StrongVPN seriously needs to hire a UX specialist to fix the incredibly convoluted customer dashboard on their website and the whole setup and usage process as such. Because right now, it’s a steaming mess.
When I logged in to my customer dashboard, I discovered I had no access to OpenVPN – “you have no OpenVPN accounts,” it said. Launching the desktop app confirmed the same – I could not choose OpenVPN protocol from the app.
Thankfully, the live chat support was immediately available, and Dzmitry explained I needed to:
launch the app → go to Change Location → choose By Server (manually) → Next → pick a city from the drop-down list and select OpenVPN from the protocol drop-down → test the server speed (optional) → next → Switch → OK → Connect.
Phew! Except for it didn’t work three times in a row, after which Dzmitry suggested I let him fix the whole thing via TeamViewer. But I was poking at things in my customer dashboard and noticed the big blue button that read “Switch Server,” so I followed the invitation, which lead me to a list of servers I could sort by their support for OpenVPN. That’s where I was able to pick a server and switch it manually. This time, the change went through, and Dzmitry confirmed it was in effect almost immediately.
After that, I was able to use OpenVPN (protocol) and tweak the app’s many settings to my liking. Overall, I’m content with their support, except for one huge nag.
I inquired about the availability of the OVPN files for the OpenVPN open-source program. It turns out it’s unavailable until you switch your default PPTP server to an OpenVPN server from the dashboard or app, whichever works for you.
Next – and this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever encountered in a VPN setup – you need to manually go through the entire torture of switching the server from your dashboard to generate an OVPN config file for each server you wish to use. But wait for the other shoe to drop!
Once you switch to a new server from your customer’s dashboard, the old config file will no longer work! This means if you want to be able to connect to a couple of US servers, and one or two UK ones using OpenVPN software, you’re forced to go through the debacle every time you wish to switch a server.
Moreover, the dashboard now contained another set of login/pass combo for OpenVPN, which was mind-numbingly confusing. Was I to use it for the app? No, I was to use it for the OpenVPN GUI, if I chose to use it over their native app.
When I asked Dzmitry about all of this - just to clarify the absurdity - he knocked me down with “But why do you need OpenVPN GUI? You can connect from StrongVPN client.”
Many VPN users prefer open-source OpenVPN to proprietary VPN programs out of considerations of privacy and security. Since the OpenVPN app is constantly audited by the GitHub community, users rest assured the app does what it’s supposed to do. Proprietary, closed-source apps, on the other hand, sometimes come bundled with malware, adware, tracking features unknown to the user. I may not wish to install yet another third-party app when I have an option to use OpenVPN, after all.
The bottom line is – not only StrongVPN forces long-term subscriptions onto users, but they also effectively rule out the OpenVPN software out of the equation by making it extremely inconvenient to use.
The StrongVPN native program is hideous but usable once you get used to it.
The native StrongVPN program allows you to customize many aspects of the service – from connecting on launch to enabling a kill switch, setting values for log verbosity, compression, timeout, allow direct traffic when reconnecting and view your account information.
The availability of the granular controls is a welcome feature, if only it didn’t come at the price of such a strangely over-complicated user interface.
StrongVPN performed well in my speed tests, but it was a weak consolation after the several hours of a painfully counter-intuitive setup struggle.
Here is my speed in Ookla’s synthetic tests before the VPN:
I’m not happy with privacy or security at StrongVPN. First of all, because it’s just so difficult to set up the right way, everything is more clicks away than it should be, which makes it extremely difficult to configure for a novice or even an average user.
Defaulting new accounts to PPTP, sending login/pass combo in plain text and making the OpenVPN app more difficult to use than it normally is, amounts to a junk pile of red flags.
The provider puts “no logs” front and center, but do the legal documents go into much detail on the matter? No. There is no indication as to how the provider treats the connection logs in the entire opus magnum that’s their legal documentation. Do they keep connection logs and what is included? For how long are they kept, and how is packet inspection treated on their end? It’s a mystery.
The provider collects your account information, such as your name, billing address, and email. That’s more than most privacy-minded providers require.
When you visit their website, the provider collects your IP, pages viewed, as well as deploys cookies, clear GIFs, web beacons, and other tracking technologies topped by Google Analytics.
The data you submit to the provider is regulated by the US data retention laws. You won’t be torrenting using this service.
This clause sounds like censorship:
I do not recommend StrongVPN. Its decent speeds and live chat support can’t make up for the unfair and convoluted setup and service topped by the lack of clarification on connection logs and extensive user information collected at sign-up.
StrongVPN is a safe VPN with fast speeds and a strict no-logs policy. It’s a good choice for P2P torrenting and unblocking US Netflix. It also has a generous limit of 12 simultaneous connections. StrongVPN isn't the most secure VPN, but it still performs well on all platforms.
StrongVPN started back in 1995 selling dedicated servers and in 2005 launched its first VPN service.
It’s one of the oldest VPN companies around, but is that enough to make it one of the best VPNs?
We tested StrongVPN extensively to answer common questions like:
- How good is StrongVPN?
- Is it safe to use?
- Is StrongVPN very fast?
- Does it work with Netflix?
- Is torrenting/P2P allowed?
- Does StrongVPN have a kill switch?
After reading our StrongVPN review, you’ll know whether this VPN is the right one for you.
StrongVPN Pros & Cons
- Fast & reliable speeds
- Works with Netflix & BBC iPlayer
- Torrenting & P2P allowed on all servers
- No-logs & no IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks
- Apps for iOS, Android, MacOS, Windows
- Up to 12 simultaneous connections
- Many servers use PPTP protocol
- Small server network
- No VPN browser extensions
- Based in privacy-unfriendly USA
StrongVPN Key Summary
|Logging Policy||No Logs|
|Jurisdiction||US (Five-Eyes Member)|
|Works in China||Yes|
|Support||24/7 Live Chat|
|Cheapest Price||$5.83/mo over 12 Months|
The key takeaways from our in-depth StrongVPN test are summed up in the box above, but if you want to get into the specifics then there’s plenty more below.
Let’s begin with StrongVPN’s connection speeds.
Who is StrongVPN?
About & Logging
The StrongVPN VPN service was launched in 2005 by Strong Technology, LLC. StrongVPN has changed hands a number of times over the years, most recently in 2019 when it was acquired by the public company J2 Global.
StrongVPN Technology and J2 Global operate under the jurisdiction of the USA, which is one of the least privacy-friendly locations in the world.
StrongVPN does state that it will comply with valid subpoena requests, but it can’t provide information that it does not have.
That’s because StrongVPN doesn’t collect any customer activity logs so there’s no way of tying down any web activity to an individual user.
StrongVPN has a very strict zero-logs policy in place. It states that it doesn’t collect or log any traffic or use of its VPN service. This includes even basic connection metadata such as timestamps, chosen server or bandwidth consumed.
Because it collects absolutely no customer data, there is no way any of your web browsing activity can be traced back to you as an individual, which is great news.
Very impressive same-country speeds
Speed & Reliability
StrongVPN’s speeds are more than fast enough for HD streaming, both for same-country connections and longer distance ones. You can expect very quick speeds connecting out to the US from Europe, too.
Local Speed Test Results
Before using StrongVPN:
When connected to StrongVPN:
Download speed without StrongVPN: 93.98Mbps
Download speed with StrongVPN: 84.24Mbps
Our download speed loss when StrongVPN is running: 10%
Latency was rather high though, at 16ms on same-country connections. Considering some VPN services registered ping times of less than 1ms, keen gamers should take a look at these VPNs.
Upload speeds were very fast too, which is great news for torrenters.
We tested StrongVPN’s average speeds connecting from the UK out to a range of locations around the world:
- USA: 58Mbps (down) & 33Mbps (up)
- Germany: 83Mbps (down) & 76Mbps (up)
- Singapore: 19Mbps (down) & 1Mbps (up)
- Australia: 28Mbps (down) & 7Mbps (up)
46 locations across 26 countries
StrongVPN’s network leans towards the small side, with around 950 servers spread across over 30 countries.
We’d like to see StongVPN serve more countries – ideally 50 plus – with better coverage of Africa and specific countries like New Zealand.
Here are all the countries you can connect to with StrongVPN:
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
StrongVPN also operates own its own servers just like its ‘sister’ VPN IPVanish.
Multi-city servers can be found in:
- US (12 cities)
- UK (6)
- Canada (3)
- Australia (2, no Perth)
- Germany (2)
- Brazil (2)
The only Asian servers you will find are located in Hong Kong, Japan and Malaysia. South America is served by just Brazil, and there aren’t any servers in Africa.
You can see the complete list of StrongVPN’s servers via the button below, including the VPN protocol available on each server.
On the plus-side, StrongVPN does make a very high number of IP addresses available to its customers – almost 60,000 – which is great to maintain good speeds.
Access to Netflix and no torrenting restrictions
Streaming & Torrenting
StrongVPN recently started working again with US Netflix on several of its US servers, after weeks of being completely blocked.
There are no dedicated streaming servers, which makes the task more difficult, but you shouldn’t find it too hard to find a server that works.
Streaming BBC iPlayer is a different story. StrongVPN unblocks iPlayer inconsistently, working on some days but not others.
It did work with BBC iPlayer in our most recent tests, though. These VPN services will on the other hand work more reliably with BBC iPlayer.
Torrenting and P2P activity is allowed on all StrongVPN servers.
Download and upload speeds were good, and a strict no-logs policy means all your online activity remains private.
What’s more, StrongVPN also has a VPN kill switch and we didn’t detect any IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks in our latest round of testing (more on this below).
A good option for users in China
StrongVPN is still a fairly good option to bypass aggressive web blocks in highly censored countries like China, Iran, Turkey and the UAE.
The additional obfuscation tools you get with StrongVPN are very useful to evade online censorship. It further scrambles your VPN connection, making it very hard to detect.
Keep in mind that the StrongVPN website is blocked in China, and possibly in other high censorship countries too, so we recommend you download and set up StrongVPN before you travel there.
If you are able to access the website, StrongVPN gives useful advice about connecting in China:
Works with all popular devices plus routers
Platforms & Devices
StrongVPN provides custom VPN apps for all popular devices:
- Android smartphones
On its website, you’ll also find manual setup guides for other types of devices, platforms and software like Linux, Amazon Kindle and Kodi.
StrongVPN also provides step-by-step instructions on how to manually set up the VPN on your router to protect all internet traffic in your home.
StrongVPN’s 12 simultaneous connection limit is very generous and one of the highest we’ve seen.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
Amazon Fire TV
StrongVPN can be used with consoles and streaming devices by either following the manual configuration instructions or installing StrongVPN on your home router.
There is also a native app for the Amazon Fire TV Stick, but it’s just not as good as some of the better Firestick VPN apps available.
StrongVPN no longer provides VPN browser extensions, which is a shame.
If you want to use a VPN extension from your browser, your should consider using one of these VPN add-ons for Chrome or Firefox.
Strong encryption and secure DNS servers
Encryption & Security
DNS Leak Blocking
IPV6 Leak Blocking
Supports TCP Port 443
VPN Kill Switch
Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.
StrongVPN is a safe VPN service, but it isn’t the most secure VPN provider we’ve reviewed.
On one hand, it has a VPN kill switch which prevents your true IP address from being exposed, it uses AES-256 encryption, and it operates its own DNS servers, meaning none of your web traffic will be routed through third-party servers.
We were also pleased to detect no DNS or IP leaks in our latest tests.
So, why is it not the most secure VPN?
Mainly because the very secure and fast OpenVPN protocol isn’t available on all servers – in fact, the vast majority of StrongVPN’s servers use the vastly outdated and insecure PPTP protocol.
StrongVPN has recently introduced support for the latest VPN protocol WireGuard. It is available as a beta version currently, and users are warned that while faster than other protocols available WireGuard is still in development.
Simply, easy-to-use apps for all devices
Ease of Use
How to Install & Set Up StrongVPN
Just go to the apps section of StrongVPN's site to begin downloading the software.
StrongVPN's setup wizard will guide you through the installation process.
You'll need to decide on a folder in which to store the setup files - usually the default option is your best bet.
Once the software is installed, you'll be prompted to run the StrongVPN app.
The main screen keeps it simple with some connection info and a (somewhat pointless) world map.
It's easy to navigate the server list with a handy search feature.
We love the embedded protocol support and the option to toggle between UDP and TCP.
Settings are still pretty limited but very simple to switch on and off.
StrongVPN has recently updated its set of custom apps to make them far more accessible to inexperienced VPN users. The main screen is very stripped back, displaying only essential connection details.
A limited range of settings can be found behind the cog icon along the top of the app, however these are very basic.
The mobile apps are also very good; simple and effective with a big button in the middle of the screen, but lack some security features, such as a kill switch.
Unfortunately, StrongVPN no longer offers any browser extensions. If you want something like this we’d recommend our top pick ExpressVPN.
24/7 live chat and some basic online help
|24/7 Live chat support||Yes|
Live chat is available 24/7, but most of the time we just ended up talking to a sales agent who copied and pasted answers from the FAQs section.
This was a little disappointing, but whenever they couldn’t solve our problems they did forward our details on to the tech team, who were always quick to respond.
The official StrongVPN website provides a great range of setup manuals for many different devices, including video tutorials and screenshots.
For basic instructions, the FAQ section should do the job, but for anything beyond simple help you’ll have to contact their customer support team.
Two pricing plans don’t provide much flexibility
StrongVPN Pricing Plan
StrongVPN offers a couple of different pricing plans to help you decide on the most suitable option. These have the same features but the longer subscription you opt for, the less you pay on a monthly basis.
The priciest option is the single month plan at $10.00, however this is reduced by 42% to a reasonable $5.83 if you sign up to an annual package.
Billed $10.00 every month
Billed $69.99 every 12 monthsSave 42%
All plans have 30-day money-back guarantee
StrongVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee in place of a free trial. This is for customers who are “less than 100% satisfied with the StrongVPN service,” and there are no hidden restrictions or data caps.
StrongVPN accepts the majority of standard payment options including most major credit and debit cards, PayPal and Alipay. It’s disappointing to see no option to pay in cryptocurrencies, however.
Do We Recommend StrongVPN?
The Bottom Line
StrongVPN is an easy VPN to recommend: it’s fast, works with all manner of streaming platforms, is great for torrenting, and much more.
We love StrongVPN’s its no-logs policy, and 12 simultaneous connections is one of the most generous allowances we’ve seen. Some of its privacy features could do with improving, and the server network isn’t as big as we’d like, but StrongVPN is still a very impressive VPN.
StrongVPN in brief:
- P2P allowed: Yes
- Business location: Dallas, Texas
- Number of servers: 650+
- Number of country locations: 24
- Cost: $70 per year
- VPN protocol: IKEv2
- Data encryption: 256-bit AES
- Data authentication: SHA-512
- Handshake encryption: modp8192
Simplicity is something of a theme in the VPN services we’ve looked at recently, and StrongVPN follows suit. This newly overhauled VPN is all about reducing choice to make it as easy as possible to get online. While there aren’t a ton of extra options, there are still some key choices that longtime VPN users will appreciate.
When you first open up StrongVPN you’re greeted with a map, a button for choosing location, and a button to connect. By default, StrongVPN chooses the closest server for the best possible speeds. If that’s not to your liking, click Best Available Location to see StrongVPN’s location listings. StrongVPN’s locations are limited, but it has enough servers in various countries throughout the world to satisfy most users.
One thing I’d like to see in the county listing is some kind of guidance about the various connections, such as a percentage of its current capacity or the ping time from my PC. Currently, however, it just lists the country and the city.
StrongVPN’s country listings.
Once you’ve chosen a location, click Save at the bottom of the list, and the server listing screen automatically closes. Back on the main screen click Connect and you’re off to the races with your preferred location.
Features and services
First and foremost, StrongVPN was able to access U.S. Netflix in my tests. The company doesn’t advertise the ability to get around Netflix’s regional restrictions, but at the time of this writing StrongVPN obliged. That could change, however, at any time.
There is not a lot to StrongVPN in terms of extras, making this a solid choice for beginners or users looking for simplicity. Click the settings cog in the upper right-hand corner of the app, and the options screen opens.
Under the Options tab there are some generic options such as “Start when Windows starts,” “Auto reconnect,” and “Connect on launch.” There’s also a kill switch option that kills all internet activity if the VPN connection drops, but at this writing the feature was not active.
StrongVPN’s protocol options.
The only other place in the app to do any tweaking is under the Protocol tab. StrongVPN defaults to the IKEv2 protocol on Windows, but there are also options for OpenVPN, SSTP, and L2TP.
The other tabs are just for looking at your account, diagnostics, and app updates.
StrongVPN costs $70 per year or $10 per month. StrongVPN supports up to five simulataneous connections on one account. There are apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. There are also manual setup instructions for routers, Linux, Synology NAS, Kodi, Kindle, and Chrome OS. If that’s not enough, you can get legacy support instructions for Windows 7 and XP, macOS 10.5, and the Boxee Box.
StrongVPN performed fairly well with some great speeds in the U.S., UK, and, surprisingly, Australia. Overall, StrongVPN scored an average 30 percent of base speed across five locations. That puts StrongVPN in the middle of the pack of all the various services we’ve tested. The aforementioned countries all scored well over 30 megabytes per second. Oddly, the Germany connection scored lower than Australia with a sub-20Mbps speed. Again, your results may vary, but the bottom line is that StrongVPN should be fast enough for most people’s needs though it doesn’t top the speed charts compared to other VPNs we’ve tested.
Privacy, anonymity, and trust
An active StrongVPN connection.
StrongVPN is an independent subsidiary of web services company StackPath LLC, which also owns IPVanish. The VPN's business address is 1920 McKinney Avenue, 7th floor, Dallas, Texas 75201. David Edwards leads the company's network and operations, and Doug Haden runs management and support staff. The team is listed on the company’s About Us page.
StrongVPN makes all the privacy promises you’d expect from a VPN. The company doesn’t collect or log any web traffic or any other internet use of its VPN service.
As for payments, it offers all the standard credit card options, as well as PayPal, Bitcoin via BitPay, and Alipay. This allows for varying levels of relative anonymity, with Bitcoin being the strongest.
StrongVPN is very easy to use, and the speeds are reliable and good enough for most users. If you are new to VPNs then StrongVPN is a good choice. Power users who are mostly concerned about the protocol they use will also like what they see from StrongVPN.
But if you are more concerned about granular server choices based on current performance, dedicated servers for P2P file sharing and Netflix unblocking, or a wider choice of countries, then StrongVPN may not be the best choice for you.
StrongVPN strikes a middle ground by providing important features for VPN basics without going overboard in feature choices.
Editor’s note: Because online services are often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements over time, this review is subject to change in order to accurately reflect the current state of the service. Any changes to text or our final review verdict will be noted at the top of this article.
Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
StrongVPN is a great choice for VPN newbies who just want to get online. It doesn't have the largest location listing we've seen, but it's a good list with enough choices for most people. Speed demons can probably find a better service elsewhere, but the company's speeds are serviceable for most uses.
- Very easy to use
- Guidance for legacy Windows users
- The location list isn't the biggest we've seen
- Speeds are average
Ian is an independent writer based in Israel who has never met a tech subject he didn't like. He primarily covers Windows, PC and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, social networks, and browsers. When he's not covering the news he's working on how-to tips for PC users, or tuning his eGPU setup.
StrongVPN provides PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN, and IPSec Protocols to users, and they are based in the United States. However, they have over four hundred servers in twenty-one different countries. They own their DNS servers, so you don’t have to worry about your data being transmitted through a third party’s server. In addition, they do not log any connection data, including your IP address, the sites you visit while using their service, and the session duration.
We were pleased to find that StrongVPN can unblock Netflix. It’s fast enough to stream in HD, too.
This makes StrongVPN an adequate choice, but how does it compare to the very best VPNs? Not well. The USA is incredibly unfriendly to data privacy, so we recommend a VPN far out of reach from the US government.NordVPN is a better choice in every aspect.
This provider allows 12 simultaneous connections. They provide you with high-quality fiber network bandwidth, so your surfing is never interrupted.
StrongVPN offers you top of the line security with their service. Their VPN accounts set up a private tunnel between their server and your computer, and you surf the internet through that private tunnel. Your VPN account gives you that added layer of security that you didn’t have before.
You’re able to stream movies, download files, and surf the web without revealing your true IP address, so no one is able to see your information or even locate you. IP’s are usually tracked and traced through websites, order forms, and many more outlets for malicious reasons. If you’re off StrongVPN’s service, you’ll see their IP below rather than your IP and origin country, so always be sure you’re still on their servers.
One the great features of StrongVPN’s service is that they work with Skype. Skype is one of the best VOIP providers out there, but if you’re using Skype from home with a VPN, they can see your exact location and charge you by the minute at a rate for that location. They’re basing their rate on your IP address. If you have an American IP, and you call an American phone number, then it’s a domestic call. If you’re making a phone call from America to India, then you’re being charged for international calls. However, if you connect to a server in India using StrongVPN’s service, you can make it look like you’re making a call from India to India, so you’re not charged an international fee!
You can get apps for this service on Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android devices. There are very comprehensive setup guides for all their mainstream systems, and you purchase preconfigured router for your home or business.
Their support systems are available all day, seven days a week, and three hundred and sixty-five days a year with a web form. You can find setup instructions for the set-top boxes, home routers, iOS, Android, Amazon Kindle, Gaming consoles, smart televisions, Ubuntu, Chrome OS, Mac OS X, Mac OS, and Windows devices.
They accept all major credit cards and PayPal. Your payment details will be stored encrypted in their billing system. They have a 5-day money-back guarantee, in case you’re not satisfied.
Since we last reviewed StrongVPN, it has streamlined its plans. The firm now advertises just a monthly and yearly package. In our opinion, the monthly plan is a touch on the pricey side. However, for Windows users, in particular, the cost of the yearly subscription is competitive.
StrongVPN throws in a smart DNS feature for free with all its plans, which is a nice addition for those looking to be able to unblock a lot of content.
Subscribers are given a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means that anybody can subscribe and change their mind. Payment can be made via debit card, credit card, American Express, PayPal, and Alipay. However, no cryptocurrencies are currently accepted.
No limitations or restrictions
Killswitch (windows only)
Smart DNS service
12 Simultaneous devices
Unblock Netflix US
Router support for many models
Strong OpenVPN encryption
Fast connection speeds
During our tests, we discovered that StrongVPN is able to unblock a number of highly sought after streaming services including Netflix US. We also got into the UK Netflix without a problem. However, it, unfortunately, does not manage to unlock the UK's BBC iPlayer. So, if this is a concern, look elsewhere.
StrongVPN also got us into ABC.com and NBC.com successfully. We were also able to access Channel 4's on-demand service from the UK.
Speed and Performance
We test VPNs using a server-based, scientific speed test system. Our proprietary system is one of a kind within the VPN comparison market and it permits consumers to get an accurate snapshot of what to expect regarding VPN performance. Our system tests StrongVPN three times a day, and the results show that it is a fast VPN more than capable of providing speeds good enough for streaming high-quality 4K video. Its connection speeds also put StrongVPN in the elite category of VPNs that can cope with data-intensive tasks such as gaming.
To test StrongVPN for privacy we checked for both IPv4 and IPv6 leaks using a Virtual Machine on Windows. We tested using an incognito window to ensure there were no cache problems. Our tests revealed no IPv4 leaks, or IPv4 WebRTC leaks. Results revealed that StrongVPN does indeed handle DNS requests with its own servers.
However, unfortunately, the VPN does suffer from IPv6 WebRTC leaks. This means that you will need to completely disable IPv6 to use this VPN successfully for privacy purposes. To be fair, StrongVPN admits this is the case, and once IPv6 is disabled the VPN does work like a charm. This is something you must watch out for - but is not necessarily a deal breaker as it is very easy to disable IPv6.
Privacy and security
|Money-back guarantee length||30||30||45|
Being based in the US is not great for privacy. The US is the home of the NSA and the CIA and the US enforces warrants and gag orders that can force firms to give up data about users and keep it a secret for an undefined length of time. Despite this drawback, StrongVPN is a service that advertises a strong no logs policy. That means the VPN is storing no logs whatsoever about the data that passes through its servers.
Where encryption is concerned, this VPN provides a choice of protocols. IKEv2, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec, and OpenVPN are available using its various apps. Our recommended protocol is OpenVPN, and this is available on both desktop versions and Android. We checked StrongVPN's OpenVPN implementation to ensure it is strong enough to protect subscriber's data from attacks. We found that its encryption implementation exceeds our minimum requirements for privacy and security, meaning that this VPN is secure.
AES 256 cipher with an RSA-2048 handshake, and SHA-1 (HMAC) for hash authentication. I was not able to ascertain whether Perfect Forward Secrecy is implemented. On the whole, this encryption is more than robust enough for most people.
On the other hand, a VPN is only securing your data as long as the VPN is connected and because a killswitch is only available on Windows, this VPN may not be suitable for everybody. In addition, IPv6 must be disabled to use this VPN securely.
The StrongVPN website is useful, however, it lacks important data concerning its encryption implementation standards. Its FAQ section is useful but only provides the bare necessities. The good news is that StrongVPN does have a 24/7 live chat window on its website. I found its agents to be extremely helpful. However, the tech department was only available during the week.
Subscribing is easy, and when talking to live chat they are able to link you to a lot of useful information that is buried within the site. Good overall.
Signing up is easy and you are not asked to provide a lot of data. This is good and if you sign up with a burner email you can get a subscription with a great amount of privacy. Sadly, cryptocurrencies are not available. One thing worth noting is that when you first download the client it automatically assigns you to a "home" server. This server is PPTP, an outdated form of encryption that we do not recommend. For this reason, the first thing you could do after installing StrongVPN is to change its encryption settings in the client's options.
The StrongVPN Windows VPN Client
This is StrongVPN's best client, and we would argue that StrongVPN is much better for Windows users than consumers using any other Operating System. OpenVPN is available, the software is easy to use, and it is fully featured with IPv4 DNS leak protection and a killswitch. VPN obfuscation is also available via a feature called scramble. StrongVPN told me that this feature sets the VPN to TCP over port 443 (to disguise OpenVPN traffic as regular HTTP).
StrongVPN also has apps is available for Mac OS X, iOS, and Android. Manual setup instructions are also available for all of these platforms. Linux, Ubuntu, and Chromium OS operating systems can also integrate the StrongVPN service via a manual installation of a third-party OpenVPN client. You can also access the VPN from routers running DD-WRT, Tomato, and Sabai router operating systems.
A killswitch is not available on any of these platforms, which rules StrongVPN for torrenting on Mac, Android, and iOS. However, if streaming and unblocking content is your main desire then this VPN is reliable on all platforms.
Wireguard is a next-generation open-source VPN protocol that has been designed to be both robust and lightweight. It implements stealth by default and is based on a number of robust modern cryptographic primitives. Few VPNs have started providing access to WireGuard but StrongVPN's implementation has just come out of beta and is now fully released.
We decided to test StrongVPN’s implementation of the WireGuard protocol to see how it performs. Subscribers who want to use WireGuard must log in to the website on a specific page. From there, users can select the platform they require a WireGuard client for. This will forward them to the WireGuard website to install the third party client.
We downloaded the Android client to give it a test run - because it is easy to set up using a QR code. However, it is possible to set it up for Windows, Mac, Linux, and iOS if you prefer.
To get started, we selected the location of the server we wanted to connect to (London). We tested WireGuard on an IPv4 connection because an IPv6 implementation is not yet available.
Once connected to WireGuard, we tested for IP leaks and found that we experienced no IP leaks, DNS leaks, or WebRTC leaks. This means that the tunnel established successfully and without problems. We were impressed by the speed with which a connection is established.
Test VPN for IP Leaks
Since reviewing this VPN service, we have created our own VPN leak test. It is easy to use and 100% reliable.
Test Your VPN for IP Leaks
Next, we tested Wireguard speeds on a 50 Mbps Virgin Media connection in the UK. We found it to perform extremely well. There was hardly any difference between our connection with and without the VPN. This is truly impressive and definitely makes StrongVPN’s implementation of WireGuard extremely interesting indeed.
It is worth bearing in mind that WireGuard is still considered experimental and it has not been fully audited. This means it may still be a bit premature to start using it for security purposes. However, it is nice to see commercial VPNs like Strong experimental with this well-publicized new protocol. Ten out of ten for effort.
|Money-back guarantee length||30||30||45|
We spoke with StrongVPN's customer support team at length and found them to be extremely helpful. At one stage we were in a live chat with two of their agents at one time, which is something we have never experienced before. The tech team was knowledgable, however, the really techy guys were only available during weekdays. Despite this we found StrongVPN to have one of the best live chat customer support teams we have ever encountered. Users can also contact StrongVPN via email if they prefer.
Despite the fact that they’ve been in business twice as long as most of their competitors, StrongVPN is still a relatively unknown company.
This fact, in and of itself, should be enough to make most potential customers pause.
After all, if a company has been practicing their craft and optimizing their product for longer than their competition, you would expect that product to be twice as good, right?
Well, as you are about to find out, this isn’t always the case.
Although StrongVPN has significantly improved their services since the last time I reviewed them, there are still several outstanding issues that may or may not preclude you from joining their customer base.
To help you make an informed and data-driven decision, I’ll be reviewing StrongVPN in great detail, going over everything from their speed to customer service to unique features and compatibility in an attempt to answer the question –
“Is StrongVPN really that Strong?”.
|OVERALL RANK:||#28 out of 78 VPNs|
|USABILITY:||Easy to use|
|LOG FILES:||No Logging Policy|
|LOCATIONS:||26 countries, 650 servers|
|SUPPORT:||Quick, Helpful Service|
|TORRENTING:||P2P & Torrenting Allowed|
|ENCRYPTION/PROTOCOL:||256-bit AES, OpenVPN and others|
|COST:||$10/mo or $5.83/mo (yearly)|
Background & Features
Founded in 2005 under the umbrella of Strong Technology LLC., Strong VPN is headquartered in one of the oldest (and coolest) locations for a U.S.-based tech company, Lake Tahoe.
This placid and quaint little town on the border of Nevada and California is perhaps the last place that you would expect to find a bustling VPN startup.
However, the team at StrongVPN. have been slinging PCs, dial-up internet, and VPN servers from their scenic headquarters for more than 20 years.
With 688 servers spread across 26 countries StrongVPN’s server base isn’t the biggest that I’ve ever seen but it should provide you with plenty of options (although, as you will see later, this isn’t really the case).
Their services are compatible with most major devices including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Google Chrome. They also provide their customers with an extensive help center where they can find detailed instructions for setting up StrongVPN with a home router. The VPN is also compatible with TOR if you want that extra protection.
StrongVPN allows their customers to connect using all major protocols including OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, IKEv2, and SSTP.
They have also built-in kill-switch app.
Finally, the VPN allows for 12 simultaneous connections.
So far, things are looking pretty good.
But let’s dive deeper into the pros and cons of StrongVPN to see if their service lives up to its name.
Pros of Using StrongVPN
1. Works with Netflix (For Now)
Netflix has been cracking down on VPNs, proxies, and unblockers with an intensity that has both startled and enraged their international community.
Despite the public outcries and complaints, Netflix has remained adamant about the ban and they’ve even taken steps to strengthen their software’s security in hopes that they can eliminate all possible unblocker loop-holes.
Since 2016, their IT department has defeated the efforts of some of the strongest and most renowned VPN companies on the market.
Taking these facts into consideration, I had foolishly assumed that my efforts to stream Netflix using StrongVPN’s services would result in this…
After all, the last time I reviewed StrongVPN, they were one of the worst VPNs that I had ever reviewed.
So it came as a shock when I was not only able to stream Netflix from a U.S. based server, but I was able to do so without any real buffer time or delay.
Considering how many other VPNs have been unable to restore Netflix compatibility, this is a huge selling point for StrongVPN.
2. Quick, Helpful Customer Service
It’s not often that I am able to include customer service under the “Pros” section of a VPN review.
Especially when I’m reviewing a VPN provider that doesn’t offer live support for their customers.
However, I am pleased to say that StrongVPN hits the nail on the head with regards to their customer support.
While reviewing their services, I decided to submit an (admittedly) made up support ticket at around 4:25 p.m.
I returned to my regularly scheduled browsing and assumed that I wouldn’t receive a response until I checked my email the next morning.
I was surprised when I opened my inbox about half an hour later and found the following message.
While I didn’t suffer through any “customer service worthy” issues while reviewing StrongVPN, I was impressed by the rapid response time and professionalism displayed by their support team.
To ensure the accuracy of this review, I scoured the web for other third-party reviews and customer complaints surrounding their support team and, surprisingly, came up dry.
Well done StrongVPN… well done indeed.
3. Strong AES-256 Encryption and StrongDNS
That’s the number of United States citizens who were affected by the Equifax breach, one of the largest security breaches in the history of cyber terrorism.
At this very moment, your social security number, driver’s license number, name, home address, phone number and more might be in the hands of the Equifax hackers, making you vulnerable to identity theft and fraud.
While it’s still unclear exactly how the hackers breached the systems, we do know that they exploited a flaw in a tool called Apache Strut which is used by a wide variety of government organizations and large corporations, including Equifax.
Beyond the sheer volume of people who were affected, what makes this hack so concerning is that a cybersecurity arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, US-CERT, “Identified and Disclosed” the flaw in March, of 2017.
This means that the security team behind Apache Struts had almost four months to resolve the issue and while they allegedly took measures to fix the flaw and mitigate the security risk, their efforts were insufficient at best.
The fallout from these hacks still remains to be seen, however, individuals worldwide are beginning to understand just how real the threat of cyberterrorism is and as such, they are beginning to take measures to optimize their online security and “Hacker Proof” their lives.
One of the most important measures that anyone can take to improve their online privacy is (obviously) to purchase and use a VPN.
However, not all VPNs are made equally and many of them have serious security flaws that all but ruin the service.
Luckily, StrongVPN uses one of the most advanced (albeit common) encryption standards in known existence.
Known as the Advanced Encryption Standard or AES, StrongVPN employs the same encryption used by the CIA, FBI, and NSA.
This means that you can sleep easy knowing that your personal data is protected. Even if you go to a public Wi-Fi network you are safe and your IP address is completely hidden.
4. No Logs Policy
Something that I’ve always found ironic about the VPN industry is that certain VPN companies actually make your online browsing less secure.
Even though they promote a “No Logs” policy on their website, if you read the fine print, you will quickly realize that many VPNs (especially free VPNs) not only log your information and activity, but they then turn around and sell it to third parties and affiliates.
With issues like this becoming more and more prevalent, it’s more important than ever before that you fully understand a VPN’s logging policy before making a purchase.
Luckily for StrongVPN, their logging policy passes with flying colors.
And unfortunately, it’s time to talk about the elephants in the corner.
Cons of Using StrongVPN
1. Very Slow on Most Servers
Since I last reviewed StrongVPN, the company has almost quadrupled the speeds provided by many of their servers.
So the fact that I still included their server speeds in the “Cons” section of this review should tell you something about how atrociously slow they used to be.
To StrongVPN’s credit, they have improved their speeds tremendously.
Almost to the point where their VPN is actually usable for everyday activities.
However, considering the steep price (which we will touch on in a minute) and their sparse selection of features, things are just too slow for me.
US Server (New York)
- Ping: 57ms
- Download: 38.96 Mbps
- Upload: 5.00 Mbps
EU Server (Amsterdam)
- Ping: 132ms
- Download: 9.78 Mbps
- Upload: 3.18 Mbps
Asia Server (Hong Kong)
- Ping: 245 ms
- Download: 20.10 Mbps
- Upload: 2.35 Mbps
- Ping: 122ms
- Download: 35.47 Mbps
- Upload: 4.63 Mbps
As always take such speed tests with a grain of salt as they simply rely on too many variables. However, since we’ve tested 78+ VPN services so far, we have an average that we can compare to other VPNs.
They do offer unlimited bandwidth which means they will not slow you down when you torrent, but that doesn’t help much when StrongVPN is sometimes even slower than a proxy.
2. Very Outdated User-Interface
I’m a sucker for nostalgia.
Nothing will make me grin quicker than a killer 90’s song or a working model of a Window 98 era PC.
However, there are plenty of times in my life where I don’t want to experience nostalgia in any way, shape, or form, and one of those times happens to be when I’m trying to protect my personal data.
Sadly, StrongVPN’s user interface looks and performs like something out of the early 2000’s.
The layout and design aren’t exactly intuitive, and things don’t get much better when you scroll over to the (hard to find) advanced settings.
I found StrongVPN’s UI to be extremely frustrating and, even as a seasoned VPN user, I struggled to find and change the settings I wanted.
Although it might not be the worst interface I’ve ever encountered, the team over at StrongVPN would certainly benefit from bringing their software’s design into the 21st century.
3. Overpriced for the Services Provided
This is the part of the review where StrongVPN could have saved themselves.
Sure, their speeds are pretty lackadaisical and their user interface looks like something from Windows ’98, however, when you consider the fact that they provide high-quality customer service, Netflix compatibility, and a zero logs policy, all of their weaknesses could be overlooked for the right price.
Unfortunately, for StrongVPN, the price is not right.
Here’s how it all breaks down.
Monthly: $10 or $120 per year
At the end of the day, StrongVPN is a budget VPN that tries to get away with charging premium VPN pricing
Even when you select StrongVPN’s cheapest package, they are still more expensive than Surfshark, PIA, NordVPN, and SaferVPN…
All of which are among our 5 most highly rated VPNs!
In fact, StrongVPN is only $1 per month cheaper than our top-rated service of 2018, ExpressVPN, which offers speeds that are 3X faster than StrongVPN’s and dozens of additional features.
So, as Happy Gilmore once said, “The price is wrong”.
Luckily you can use multiple payment methods to buy StrongVPN, such as PayPal, Credit Cards and even Bitcoin for anonymous payments.
4. U.S. Jurisdiction Might Dissuade Some Customers
Ever since Edward Snowden leaked countless documents revealing just how much information the U.S. government tracks and stores, many privacy advocates have become cautious of using a VPN service located in any of the “Five Eyes” countries.
Although this is a valid concern that should be taken into consideration when deciding which VPN client you will use, StrongVPN’s strict logging policy should help you rest easy at night….
We will only comply with all valid subpoena request that follow the letter of the law. We cannot provide information that we do not have. StrongVPN will not participate with any request that is unconstitutional.
However, as we’ve seen with HotSpot Shield and other VPNs throughout the years, there are no guarantees, and when it comes to personal security, I always prefer to hedge my bets.
5. You Have to Play “Server Roulette”
One of the biggest problems that I found with StrongVPN’s service is that using their VPN is tantamount to playing Russian Roulette.
What do I mean by this?
Well, unlike every other VPN on the marketplace, they assign servers at random (I’m assuming this is done to preserve their budget) meaning that their clients are basically playing the lottery every time they connect a device.
One month you might have outstanding service that is up to par with StrongVPN’s competition.
The next month, the server you’ve been assigned might be so atrocious you can’t even download a simple Word Document (no, I’m not exaggerating).
There is no consistency with their service or the servers to which you get assigned making StrongVPN an (almost) literal crapshoot.
Do I Recommend StrongVPN?
I’ve got to applaud the team over at StrongVPN.
Since the last time that I reviewed their services, they have improved their speeds, strengthened their customer service, and increased their money back guarantee from 7 to 30 days.
This are some big improvements.
However… It’s still not enough to earn my endorsement.
StrongVPN has a lot going for it with its Netflix compatibility, quick customer support team, and no logging policy.
But considering the outrageous price tag, slow speeds, and frustrating interface, I simply cannot give StrongVPN my seal of approval.
Most people don’t spend their days thinking about VPNs. Well, except for me, but then again I’m not like most people. Anyways, it can be hard to decide which one VPN is the best for you when there are so many options out there. You don’t need one until you do. They’re crucial when it comes to watching Netflix abroad, bypassing network restrictions or censorship, or just when you feel strongly about the right to privacy. I’m pumped to be reviewing another well-known VPN out there — StrongVPN. Given the name, you might be wondering — is it really the strongest?
StrongVPN has been around the block longer than most. They launched their VPN service in 2005 and now they have over 950 servers covering the globe in 24 countries, which is nothing to sneeze at. Today, I’m going through everything related StrongVPN— it’s feature set, how well it performs, subscription information, customer support, and the StrongVPN app. Then, we’ll decide together if StrongVPN is the best VPN for your needs. Let’s get into it!
StrongVPN Pros and Cons
Before we get into all the nitty-gritty details, let’s get a bird’s eye view and look at the pros and cons of StrongVPN.
What We Like
- No logging: Your personal web traffic data, like your IP addresses, browsing history, traffic, etc. is not logged or stored anywhere.
- Twelve simultaneous devices per subscription: They recently upped the number of connections from five to twelve, which is probably enough as long as you don’t have a big family.
- Speed: StrongVPN kept my internet speed high enough to handle a Netflix binge.
- Phone customer support: Many VPNs offer email and live chat customer service, but StrongVPN is one of the few that also offers phone support.
What We Don’t Like
- Data retention laws: StrongVPN is based in the United States, so it’s a part of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes international surveillance alliances.
- Limited split tunneling: StrongVPN only lets you access public and private networks simultaneously on Android devices.
- Mixed customer support reviews: Almost a quarter of their reviews on Amazon have one star.
Okay, let’s get into the details.
StrongVPN App Screenshot
StrongVPN has over 950 servers in 46 different cities and over 20 different countries. It’s important to know how many servers a VPN has and where they’re located because the closer the VPN server is to you, the better your connection will be.
StrongVPN is headquartered in Winter Park, Florida. While probably a nice place to stay while you’re visiting Harry Potter world, it’s not the ideal location for a VPN company. The United States is a member of the international surveillance alliance Five Eyes, as well as Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes. This means that StrongVPN could be forced to hand over your data to the government. On the positive side, this may not be an issue because StrongVPN has a strict no-logging policy so they won’t be tracking your web traffic.
Will StrongVPN Log My Data?
Whenever data is stored somewhere, there is a chance that it will be shared or hacked. While pretty much every VPN will say they log zero data, it’s not actually true. In reality, it’s impossible to run a VPN service without storing at least some data (like your email address). Luckily, StrongVPN is transparent in saying what data they do and don’t store. The only personal information they collect is account setup information, which could include your full name, billing address, and credit card information if you pay using a credit card. What this means is that they never track or store your web traffic data while you are using their VPN.
Does StrongVPN Have A Kill Switch?
StrongVPN Kill Switch
No, we’re not talking about what the villain used in the last James Bond. VPN services use a kill switch, sometimes called a network lock function, to automatically cut internet access in the event the VPN network connection is lost. So does StrongVPN have a kill switch? Luckily, yes.
What Kind of Tunneling does StrongVPN Offer?
Split tunneling lets you route part of your device or app traffic through the VPN tunnel while other devices or apps maintain direct internet access. You can basically use a VPN and still be connected to local network devices. It is a great way to use less bandwidth. StrongVPN only offers split tunneling in their Android application. So if you use a Mac or PC and split tunneling is important to you, this may be disappointing for you.
Can I Use Netflix with StrongVPN?
At the moment, StrongVPN does let you watch Netflix and torrent files. Netflix and VPNs are constantly wrestling with each other, with Netflix wanting to keep content bound to certain regions and VPNs wanting you to rewatch Rick and Morty for the tenth time, if that’s what your heart desires. I’m happy to report that StrongVPN is currently winning the Netflix and torrenting game. But really, this depends on the country and server you’re using. When I tested this on Netflix myself, the servers in the UK didn’t work but other countries did. If you’re looking for a VPN entirely for Netflix, I would suggest a different VPN that has more servers.
Encryption involves coding text and data in such a way that only those with a special code and decode the data and access the information inside. StrongVPN uses the following methods to encrypt your data:
With StrongVPN, all of your data will be encrypted using the 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which is the gold standard in encryption and would take even the fastest supercomputer millions of years to decrypt with brute force. The United States government uses AES-256 for encrypting top secret information. Suffice it to say, you should be safe.
Internet Key Exchange version 2 is a widely used VPN protocol that automatically re-establishes your connection with your VPN after you’re disconnected from the Internet. It’s particularly helpful for anyone that likes to switch in between Wi-Fi and mobile hotspots, a very common dance while using the internet in public.
Finally, IP Security creates secure Internet connections, often used in tandem with other protocols to increase security. IPsec employs one of two modes: transport mode, which only encrypts the data packet message itself, or tunneling mode, which encrypts the entire data packet.
Internet protocols determine how data packets are dispatched across a network. These protocols determine the safety of a VPN service and how fast it will be. Some protocols sacrifice security for speed, and vice versa. StrongVPN uses the following internet protocols:
OpenVPN is generally the preferred protocol, offering a great combination of speed, security, and performance. It does require a more complicated setup process and third party software though. This protocol is open source and supported by a community that improves the code all the time to keep surveillance agencies from tampering with VPN services.
Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol is known for its performance and speed, and it’s supported on all Windows devices. It’s known for being able to easily bypass firewalls, and it creates a very secure connection.
The Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol works with IPsec (see above) to create a very secure VPN client. While the L2TP creates the tunnel itself, IPSec handles the encryption and channel security. It also makes sure that the data’s integrity hasn’t been compromised.
Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol creates tunnels to encapsulate the data packets. Although PPTP has been used often since the 1990s, it’s not the most secure method available.
UDP, or User Datagram Protocol, sends messages called datagrams which don’t require virtual circuits to transfer data. The advantage of UDP is that it requires lower bandwidth, resulting in less delay. One disadvantage is that some packets may be lost or out of order.
Transmission Control Protocol is made up of seven layers that transport data and makes sure it gets to the right place by breaking the data into smaller packets. It’s an excellent combination with UDP, as it can make sure the data is put back together in the right order.
StrongVPN is also compatible with TOR if you want two layers of protection.
Let’s see how well StrongVPN performs. Is it really the strongest VPN option out there? I’m going to throw speed and leak tests at StrongVPN and see how well it does.
There’s not much point in a VPN if it makes your internet unbearably slow. VPNs use additional internet protocols to secure your information and these protocols often end up slowing down your internet. Your internet speed will be determined by many factors — internet service provider, computer (hardware and software), VPN server, location, and even the time of day. I tested StrongVPN using a Lenovo ThinkPad on Windows 10 and a Macbook Pro on Mac OSX Mojave from Poland, different from my previous reviews. So while you won’t get the same speed test results, they can give you an idea of how StrongVPN compares to its competition.
StrongVPN Download Speed Test Results
I used an internet speed test to check my download speed before and after turning on the VPN. StrongVPN slowed down my Mac a little bit more than my Windows computer, slowing my Mac by around 32% and Windows by around 23%. Overall though, I’m happy with my internet download speeds using StrongVPN on both my Windows and Mac computers. In both cases, my slowed down speed was still more than enough for Netflix or other bandwidth-heavy uses.
StrongVPN Upload Speed Test Results
Next, I tested the difference in upload speeds with and without the VPN. Once again I am satisfied with how StrongVPN performed. This time, however, my Mac did better with only a decrease of about 8% compared to 31% on the Windows computer.
StrongVPN Ping Speed Test Results
And for my last speed test, I looked at ping, or latency. In this category, StrongVPN performed well, but not quite as well as earlier. My ping increased by around 400% on both my Mac and Windows computers.
Overall, it’s a tie. StrongVPN performed about equally well on my Mac and Windows computers, trading spots in the download and upload speed tests. However, I wasn’t thrilled with the amount of latency I got on either computer.
DNS Leak Test
DNS Leak Test
A DNS, also referred to as name server, nameserver, and domain name system server, is a server that contains a database of public IP addresses and hostnames. Using the database, the DNS translates common names to IP addresses. For example, a DNS could change lifewire.com to an 18.104.22.168 IP address.
DNS leak tests are important to do because your device might be sending DNS traffic outside of the VPN tunnel, or through the VPN tunnel but to a third-party DNS server. If this traffic leaks, someone could use it to log your activity. This can happen if your VPN is manually configured, if an attacker controls your router, or if you chose to do a manual DNS setup.
When I performed a DNS leak test on my Mac or Windows computers, StrongVPN had no DNS leak tests, which is exactly what I was hoping for.
WebRTC Leak Test
WebRTC allows web browsers to directly communicate with each other without an intermediate server. This allows for faster speeds and less lag for applications like video chatting, file transferring, and live streaming. What could go wrong with that? Well, for WebRTC to work, devices need each other’s private IP addresses and popular web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Opera all use WebRTC by default. This test makes sure that when you use WebRTC, your private IP address is kept secret.
The first time I performed a WebRTC leak test on my Windows laptop, it failed. Wait a second? What? Why? It turns out you need to disable IPv6 in order to pass the WebRTC test. On my Mac, it was automatically turned off so it wasn’t an issue. But after fixing my settings, StrongVPN protected me from WebRTC leaks.
So let’s talk numbers? How much is StrongVPN going to cost?
The folks at StrongVPN like to keep it simple: you can either pay monthly or yearly. They don’t offer trials (although they make a good point about them often being abused which leads to IPs being blacklisted on well-known websites), but they do have a 30-day money-back guarantee. This means you can feel comfortable committing to a month or a year, while still having the option to change your mind if it doesn’t work out for you. Here are your payment options.
StrongVPN Payment Plan
StrongVPN Subscription Plan
Both payment plans give you 250 GB of cloud storage through SugarSync, let you switch servers an unlimited number of times, and use up to twelve devices simultaneously. SugarSync is a cloud service that lets you upload and download photos, videos, and files to the cloud from almost any device. And if twelve devices isn’t enough for you, it’s possible to use even more by setting up a VPN router.
StrongVPN can be configured manually to work with Linux, Ubuntu Linux, Synology NAS, Kodi, Amazon Kindle, Chromium OS / Google Chrome OS, and wireless routers.
A browser extension is available for Google Chrome.
StrongVPN Customer Support
What goes up must come down right? And when the internet is down, customer support can either make or break a VPN service. So let’s take a look at StrongVPN’s customer support.
Like many of the best VPNs, StrongVPN offers 24/7 customer support via live chat and email. Unlike other VPNs, StrongVPN also offers phone customer support, Monday through Friday nine AM until five PM UTC. (M-F 9 am – 5 pm UTC). I’m one of those people who prefers contacting customer support through live chat, but having the option to call someone for help is great and quite uncommon for a VPN.
StrongVPN Phone Support
So you can get help through live chat, phone, and email, but how do their customers rate their service?
Customer Support Ratings
On Amazon, StrongVPN has an overall customer rating of 3.6 from around 45 customer reviews. Although a small sample size, around half of them were five stars. Only one customer mentioned customer support, but that customer called the support “outstanding” and gave them five stars.
The StrongVPN App
StrongVPN iOS App
Technically you could manually configure all your devices, but for ease of use, StrongVPN has apps for Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire TV. All you need to do is select which server you want to connect to and hit “Connect”. I found the iOS, Mac, and Windows apps a breeze to use. The iOS and Android apps are both rated highly. Users gave the StrongVPN app 4.3 stars on the Apple store and four stars on the Google Play store. I do think a little more functionality in the mobile apps would be nice. For example, I think the option to live chat with customer support through the app would be great.
StrongVPN Vs. NordVPN
NordVPN is a leading VPN with a lot of similarities to StrongVPN. NordVPN is, however, a lot bigger. While StrongVPN has over 950 servers in 24 countries, NordVPN has a staggering 5,246 in 62 countries. But this isn’t to say NordVPN will always give you a better VPN connection. Check your location and compare it to the server locations, because StrongVPN may have servers in more desirable locations for you.
One benefit NordVPN has over StrongVPN is that it is based out of Panama, a country not subject to an international surveillance alliance or data retention laws. On the other hand, StrongVPN is based out of the United States, which is part of the 5 Eye international surveillance alliance.
StrongVPN vs. NordVPN Features
In terms of features, both VPNs have a lot in common. Both have strict no-logging policies, kill switches, the ability to stream Netflix, and the ability to torrent files.
They differ when it comes to split tunneling and the kind of IP addresses they offer. In terms of split tunneling, StrongVPN comes out slightly ahead. NordVPN doesn’t offer split tunneling at all, which is slightly worse than StrongVPN which only offers split tunneling on Android devices. When it comes to IP addresses, both StrongVPN and NordVPN offer IPs that are shared with their other users. This is good because it makes it difficult for someone to determine which part of the traffic is you. NordVPN inches ahead though, as they also have the option to pay a small fee to get a dedicated IP address.
So in terms of features, StrongVPN and NordVPN are pretty even. But what about when it comes to performance? NordVPN slowed download speeds on my Mac a little more than StrongVPN, but not noticeably. If ping is important to you, I would go with NordVPN as my ping only increased 40-70% compared to a around a 400% increase with StrongVPN. So if you’re a serious gamer, StrongVPN may not be the best VPN for you. Overall, I would probably go with NordVPN because they have more servers and are based out of a more data-friendly country. More servers mean you are more likely to find one that barely slows down your internet and it increases the chance you will find a server that works with Netflix.
Recap of StrongVPN
Overall, I think StrongVPN is great when it comes to features. It’s secure, performs well, and allows stream Netflix and torrent movies. My only wishes are that it had more servers and was not based out of one of the Five Eye countries. But that’s just me. Let’s find out if StrongVPN is the right VPN for you.
You might like StrongVPN if these features are important to you:
- No logging: StrongVPN will never store your web traffic and the data they do keep is purely based on upholding your subscription.
- Twelve simultaneous devices per subscription: This is a pretty large amount of devices for one reasonable price.
- Speed: The VPN didn’t slow down my computers too much, although I wasn’t thrilled with the amount of lag.
- Phone customer support: If you’re more of an old-fashioned person when it comes to support, you’ll love being able to talk to a real human with StrongVPN’s phone service.
- Free cloud storage: 250 GB of SugarSync cloud storage normally would cost $9.99 a month, so having it included with StrongVPN could save you some dough.
On the other hand, you might want to avoid StrongVPN if these are deal-breakers:
- Data retention laws: StrongVPN is based in the United States, so the company could be legally obligated to hand over your name, credit card information, etc.
- Limited split tunneling: StrongVPN only lets you access public and private networks simultaneously on Android devices, not Mac, Windows or iOS devices.
- Mixed customer support reviews: Almost a quarter of their reviews on Amazon have one star, although the lone customer support review was positive.
StrongVPN isn't a top-notch VPN, but WireGuard support and the ability to connect up to 12 devices simultaneously will appeal to many, and 250GB of SugarSync cloud storage is a seriously valuable extra.
- Supports up to 12 simultaneous connections
- Unblocks Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+
- WireGuard supported on all apps
- 250GB SugarSync storage included
- Few features
- Doesn't unblock BBC iPlayer
- Possible speed issues
- Website problems
While many VPNs try to win you over with gimmicks and feature overload (‘8000 locations!’, ‘$3 a month if you subscribe for 7 years!’), StrongVPN offers a simpler service which focuses on the fundamentals.
There are apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, for instance, and setup guides for routers, Fire TV, Kodi and more. StrongVPN provides 950+ servers in 59 cities across 35 countries (that's up from 46 cities in 26 countries only six months ago). You can connect via L2TP, SSTP, OpenVPN, IKEv2 and now even WireGuard, there's 24/7 customer support and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Nothing amazing, but not bad specs, either, and more than adequate for most people.
The service does have a few surprises, too, including the company's own secure DNS system, limited phone support (9am - 5pm Monday to Friday, CT) and the unusual ability to connect up to 12 devices simultaneously. We'd hazard a guess that's more than you require, but it's there if you need it.
Improvements since our last review include full support for the secure and speedy WireGuard protocol, right across the range. It's not beta any more, and you don't miss out with the mobile apps – it's available everywhere.
The iOS app now includes integration with StrongVPN's knowledgebase and in-app chat support, making it easier to get help when you need it. There's support for Siri shortcuts to connect and disconnect, and new Light Mode and Dark Mode themes for iOS 13.
At first glance, pricing looks a little above average at $10 a month billed monthly, dropping to $5.83 on the annual plan. Private Internet Access asks only $3.33 a month with a one-year subscription, and sign up for two years with Surfshark and you'll pay the equivalent of $1.99.
But, wait – for some bizarre reason, the front page of the StrongVPN site is missing something very important. The Plans page explains that along with the VPN, you get 250GB of SugarSync secure cloud storage, normally priced at $9.99 a month if you buy direct. That's a fairly major extra which you might have thought StrongVPN would yell about, in very large fonts... but apparently not.
If you'll use the SugarSync space, that looks like an excellent deal. Although be sure to check out IPVanish, too – it also has a SugarSync deal, though it's fractionally more expensive ($10 billed monthly, $6.49 on the annual plan).
However, if cloud storage isn't a priority, don't be distracted by the marketing: focus instead on the core VPN features you need.
StrongVPN says it doesn't keep logs on its users but fails to provide more details on what records it does keep (Image credit: StrongVPN)
The company tries to help a little by summarizing its privacy position upfront, with these points:
- We are a zero-logging VPN service, meaning we do not track or store your data while connected to our VPN service.
- The only personal information we collect from you is used for your account setup, such as an email address and payment information.
- We do not sell your personal information to third parties.
Unfortunately, there's none of the extra detail you'll often see elsewhere (the market-leading ExpressVPN, for example). Does the company log connections to its service? Which details are included, and how long are they kept? Does the service prioritize or penalize any protocol above another? We've no idea.
Overall, StrongVPN's core terms of service deliver essentially what you'd expect, with no logging of how you make use of the VPN. But the lack of detail makes us wonder whether there might be any lesser issues here. It's also worth noting that the service is based in the US, so doesn't have quite as much legal and privacy protection as you'll sometimes get elsewhere.
StrongVPN really needs to do more to make its procedures clear, though, especially as big-name competitors (NordVPN, TunnelBear, VyprVPN, and more) are now going as far as having their systems publicly audited to prove their privacy credentials. Just saying 'we don't do bad stuff, honest' is no longer enough.
We encountered some unfortunate technical hitches while signing up (Image credit: StrongVPN)
With no trial available, you must pay for at least a month of StrongVPN service before you can try the service (although there is a 30-day money-back guarantee).
We parted with our cash, but the site complained that there was a 'problem with our order', and we should click a link to deal with this right now.
What was the problem? The link didn't say. Worse still, although it took us to a StrongVPN-branded page, this was on a web hosting URL (https://whm.reliablehosting.com/whmcs/clientarea.php). So, our payment at StrongVPN.com unexpectedly failed, and we were redirected to a different domain, and asked to go through the payment process again? There's nothing dubious going on here – this really was our StrongVPN billing page – but it's easy to see how users might be suspicious.
An email arrived explaining that the email we'd used for the StrongVPN account didn't match our PayPal email, and that was the cause of the problem. It was, too – we paid via the account page and all was well.
That wasn't the end of our problems, though. StrongVPN uses WHMCS, a popular management platform commonly used by web hosts, and our account page still had several hosting-related options ('Buy a domain', 'Order hosting'), while others didn't work at all (clicking Get Support took us to a page saying: 'No support departments found. Please try again later'). Eventually we gave up and manually switched to StrongVPN.com, and all was well.
Thumbs up to StrongVPN for noticing the PayPal issue, but two thumbs down for poor handling on the website. It's not a problem most people will encounter, ever, and our financial or other details were never at any risk. It's a clumsy piece of web design, though, and if you're trusting your most confidential information to a company, you're entitled to expect more technical expertise than this.
Once we finally reached StrongVPN's own website, life got much easier.
A very obvious StrongVPN Clients link presented us with buttons to download the Windows, Mac, iOS and Android clients.
The website has a good range of manual setup guides encompassing just about every possible option. The Android section covers standard installation and sideloading of the app, for instance, as well as Android TV, manual IKEv2, and using the StrongSwan and OpenVPN GUI apps.
StrongVPN also has detailed manual setup instructions covering routers, Kodi, Linux, Chrome OS, Amazon Kindle and more.
If you're happy with the standard apps, though, you probably won't need any special documentation. We installed the Windows client and mobile apps in the usual way and without any hassles, and were ready to go within seconds.
Our Windows client opened with our current location highlighted on a small map, displayed our external IP address, and enabled connecting to our nearest server with a click.
A basic location picker lists servers in their countries and cities, but doesn't include server load or ping time figures, or give you the option to save commonly used locations as favorites.
StrongVPN lets you choose your location from a list of servers (Image credit: StrongVPN)
A Search box speeds up the process of finding the locations you need, though. And the odd issue we noticed last time, where locations were displayed in reverse alphabetical order, has been fixed. It's now back to regular A-Z, just as you'd expect.
There are none of the convenient shortcuts you'll often see elsewhere. You can't double-click a location to connect immediately, for instance. There's no way to switch locations until you manually close the current connection. And you can't connect to a particular location from the StrongVPN system icon's right-click menu.
Even the client's map is just a fixed graphic, with no option to zoom or pan it, to view the city name of the current location or connect to anything else.
This does keep the client very easy to use, of course. There's nothing to learn, all you have to do is choose a location, click Connect when you're ready, Disconnect when you're done.
There is a great selection of protocols on offer, including WireGuard (Image credit: StrongVPN)
The Settings dialog has some welcome touches. An unusually wide choice of protocols, for instance, covers L2TP, IKEv2, SSTP, OpenVPN and WireGuard – that's about as good as it gets.
Elsewhere, a kill switch blocks your internet connection if the VPN connection fails. You can specify the OpenVPN connection type (UDP or TCP) and port, and a Scramble function might help you bypass VPN blocking. Also, there's more diagnostic help than usual in a built-in connection log, and, on Windows, an option to reinstall the TAP driver (the virtual network interface commonly used by VPNs to get online).
There are none of the more advanced features you might expect elsewhere, though, such as DNS leak or configuration options, or the ability to auto-connect when accessing insecure wireless hotspots.
Our tests found the kill switch has improved since our last review. If the connection drops, the client warns users with a desktop notification. And the switch now works properly for all protocols (including the new WireGuard); when we manually closed our connection, the client blocked internet traffic immediately, with no sign of our real IP being exposed.
We've got some issues with the client's interface and feature set, then, but StrongVPN's Windows client more than covers the basics, and performs its core functions well. Connection times were speedy, its OpenVPN setup used very secure AES-256-CBC encryption, and there were no DNS or WebRTC leaks.
You get WireGuard support on mobile devices, too (Image credit: StrongVPN)
StrongVPN's mobile apps look and feel much the same as the desktop clients, and they've also resolved some of our issues from the previous review. Last time we looked at the iOS app, for instance, it had only seen one update in the past 11 months. However, since then, it's gained WireGuard support, new Light and Dark Mode themes, in-app help and chat features, and more.
Overall, they're easy to use, handle the basics well, and do have some valuable extras. Well worth a look.
SugarSync is a useful extra for those looking for some cloud storage (Image credit: StrongVPN)
Apps checked, we began to wonder about our 250GB of SugarSync cloud storage. It wasn't mentioned in the 'Welcome' email from StrongVPN. We couldn't see any mention of it in our account pages, no indication of how to claim our space. What was going on?
We raised a support ticket, and a reply arrived in a speedy 40 minutes. Unfortunately, it didn't help: 'Log into your customer area, then you can see the SugarSync tab.' We fired back a reply – 'No, we can't' – along with a screenshot as evidence, and three hours later StrongVPN manually activated the service on our account. Apparently it should have been set up automatically, but for some reason that didn't happen.
We got our 250GB eventually, then, but it took some effort. And if we'd signed up from the front page of the site, where SugarSync wasn't even mentioned, we'd never have realized it was included with the service.
None of this has anything specifically to do with the VPN, of course, but it's still hugely unprofessional. And it leaves us wondering: if StrongVPN can get this so fundamentally wrong, what other issues might be lurking elsewhere?
If you can overlook these signup issues, though, SugarSync works very well. Add files or folders to your account from the right-click menu, then they're automatically uploaded to your web space and synced across your devices (PCs, Macs, iOS, Android). It's easy to share them with others, and remote wiping support enables removing synced files from a lost or stolen device.
This isn't a SugarSync review and we're not going to get into the low-level details now . If you need cloud storage, it's certainly worth looking at, especially considering the price you're paying here. But if you're unsure, keep in mind that SugarSync offers a 30-day free trial at its own website. Sign up for that, first, and you'll quickly find out if it's right for you.
StrongVPN was able to unblock US Netflix in our tests, meaning we didn't see any frustrating errors (Image credit: Netflix)
The StrongVPN website claims it's the 'Best Streaming VPN', and suggests services including Netflix, Hulu, ABC, HBO and Sky Go are all supported.
BBC iPlayer wasn't on the list, and testing suggested why: we couldn't view it from any of StrongVPN's UK servers. (Our results weren't as conclusive as usual, though – we didn't get any error message, the player just wouldn't start – so it's possible you'll see different results.)
Viewing US-only YouTube content is so easy that almost every VPN in the world can do it, but we tried it anyway, and sure enough, StrongVPN passed the test.
Netflix is the real measure of a VPN's unblocking ability, of course, but StrongVPN managed that, too, allowing us to stream content from Netflix US and Japan (Canada, France and UK were all blocked, though).
The good news continued to the end of our unblocking tests, with StrongVPN allowing us to stream Disney+ content and watch US Amazon Prime Video while connected to StrongVPN's US servers.
Ookla's SpeedTest is one of the services we used to test StrongVPN's performance (Image credit: Ookla)
Our performance tests got off to a positive start, with our closest UK servers averaging a decent 68-69Mbps on our 75Mbps test connection, only around 6% less than our regular speeds with the VPN turned off.
We also checked speeds from a US location via a very fast 600Mbps test line, and this gave us hugely mixed results, with figures ranging from 210-220Mbps in one session to just 40-45Mbps in another.
One possible explanation is that our tests took place in late March 2020, when much of the world was in coronavirus lockdown, and internet and VPN traffic was significantly higher than usual.
But on the other hand, our last review also found very inconsistent speeds ranging from 130-215Mbps in one session, down to just 5Mbps in another. Perhaps the underlying problem is that some StrongVPN servers get overloaded sometimes, resulting in very inconsistent speeds.
We use OpenVPN for our speed tests, to make for a more reliable comparison between providers. WireGuard didn't make any significant difference during our UK tests, but the results may vary depending on your device and network, so it's possible you'll see better performance.
With coronavirus measures creating very unusual circumstances for speed testing, we're not going to count StrongVPN's inconsistent results as a major black mark against it this time. Keep them in mind if you sign up for the company, though, and run your own speed tests with different locations, at various times of day, to see how the service works for you.
If you have any technical difficulties, StrongVPN's support site has some tutorials and troubleshooting guides. The content has seen some updates since our last review, but it's still quite limited, poorly organized, and can't begin to compete with the best of the competition. Still, there is some useful information here, plus live chat and ticket-based support is available if you need more.
StrongVPN doesn't have many features, and our signup issues were a concern. It's great value if you'll use the SugarSync space, though, and WireGuard support along with the ability to connect up to 12 devices simultaneously are also appealing. Worth checking out.
StrongVPN is a solid VPN service with all the industry-standard features and then some. While some concerns exist relating to the provider’s location, it offers excellent performance, streaming and browsing on a large number of devices at the same time, as well as phone support.
- Risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee
- 12 simultaneous connections
- Unblocks Netflix
- No traditional free trial
- Based in the US
StrongVPN is a VPN provider founded in 2005 in California. It currently has teams all over the globe, including in the United States, Australia, France, Malaysia, and Japan.
The provider offers only two subscription packages - monthly and yearly. The 1-month option is priced at $10.00, while the annual one costs $5.83 per month ($69.99 billed annually). Both plans are offered with a 30-day money-back guarantee with an interesting perk - you don’t even need to have a legitimate reason to ask for your money back.
The website claims you can get the service for as low as $4.37 per month for the annual, and $7.50 for the monthly plan. This is true if you click on the Save Now button on the homepage. A coupon is applied automatically and counts only for the first billing cycle. After the promotion ends, the rates above apply.
As the company states, its money-back guarantee is risk-free and can be seen as a free trial, since there isn’t one. The only catch is that you still have to sign up for a subscription and have money deducted from your account.
Payments can be made via major credit cards, PayPal, and Alipay.
StrongVPN supports a wide range of platforms. These include Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and FireTV, for which it has native clients. Plenty of other platforms are covered with manual setup guides and include Linux, Synology NAS, Kodi, Amazon Kindle, Chrome OS, as well as specific router models. You can also purchase a router with already enabled StrongVPN.
The service can be used on up to 12 devices simultaneously, while the router support gives you the possibility to increase this already high number to virtually unlimited. This is possible because a router counts as only one device, regardless of how many other devices are connected to it.
What you get
StrongVPN provides access to a solid server network counting over 950 units in 46 cities across 20+ countries. These servers allow you access to various popular geographically restricted services such as Netflix, Hulu, SkyGO, HBO, Crunchyroll, Spotify, ABC, YouTube, and more. However, there is no support for BBC iPlayer.
Torrenting is also possible on the provider's servers, although the company no longer makes any mention of it nor is there any help for it in the knowledge section on the website. We did check this with the support and were told that torrenting is supported.
The service provides utmost privacy thanks to the use of military-grade 256-bit encryption. Connecting is performed through OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP, and SSTP protocols, as well as the proprietary WireGuard technology. This new protocol was introduced with the goal of having different protocols’ best features assembled into one.
It provides faster speeds than OpenVPN, increases performance, requires less computational resources than IPSec, is more secure than all other protocols, and is available on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android clients.
An additional safety feature traditionally used by VPN providers is a kill switch, and StrongVPN has one as well. When turned on, a kill switch will jump in whenever the VPN connection drops, effectively blocking your Internet connection so no data is leaked.
StrongVPN calls itself a ‘zero-logging VPN’, which means it will never track or store your data and browsing activities while connected to its service. It only collects the information necessary for account creation which it promises not to sell to third parties.
This would mean a lot for people concerned about the physical location of the StrongVPN headquarters - the United States, a country whose government is known for anything but keeping its nose out of people’s online activities.
StrongVPN performs quite well in terms of connection times and download speeds, although it isn’t the fastest in the industry. For instance, a 75Mbps connection in the UK will deliver a high 65Mbps for local VPN servers, while the 475Mbps line in the US can hail a VPN download speed between 130 and 215Mbps. These are excellent results in comparison to many competitors.
If you encounter any problems when installing and using the service, you can consult the library of articles on the help site. They are divided into groups according to the area covered, including setup guides, technical support, billing support, FAQ, and about section. The support site is searchable by keyword.
StrongVPN also has a blog, which is a good read for anyone interested in both the company and the VPN industry in general.
For all your concerns that cannot be answered by the support site, the company’s expert customer service agents are there for you, 24/7. You can reach them on live chat or submit a detailed request on the website and get a response via email in under an hour.
A welcome addition to these common practices is the phone line which allows you to get in touch with them anytime during the company’s office hours - between 9 AM and 5 PM CT (UTC -6), Monday through Friday.
Although more pricing options would be highly appreciated and the fact that the provider is based in the US does raise some concerns, StrongVPN is a generally well-rounded service that opens many doors for its users - streaming geographically restricted content and torrenting on many devices, all the while boasting excellent speeds. The phone support provides even more options to establish contact with the company and get speedy assistance.
Our score: 4/5
Client platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, DDWRT, macOS, GLiNet routers, Android TV.
Supported protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, SSTP and WireGuard
No. of servers: About 950
No. of countries: About 20
Country of registration: California
Payment options: Credit cards, PayPal, Alipay
Real name necessary? No
Encryption protocol: IKEv2
Data usage: Unlimited
Bandwidth usage: Unlimited
Max. no. of simultaneously connected devices: 12
Customer support: Email, live chat