StrongVPN Review

StrongVPN is a powerful service with some unusual features, but balances this out by not offering features common with other providers. The overall impression is a service that could be good, but is simply too bland. Read our full review for the details.

By Jacob RoachDeputy Editor
— Last Updated: 06 Mar'19
2018-03-06T09:19:16-08:00
Table of ContentsRating
Features
70%
Decent
Pricing
80%
Good
Ease of Use
70%
Decent
Speed
70%
Decent
Security
80%
Good
Privacy
75%
Good
Streaming Performance
80%
Good
Server Locations
60%
Fair
Customer Service
60%
Fair
User Reviews & Comments

Decent
Starts from $ 583 per month
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StrongVPN won’t be coming within a mile of our best VPN providers. That’s not because it’s doing something wrong, though. It proves that a service can be so stock it hurts rather than helps. Though buying it isn’t the worst choice you can make, there are many virtual private networks that do what it does better.

In this StrongVPN review, we’re going to talk about the strange balance between good and bad in the service and how it leads to a provider that feels just okay. We’ll talk features, pricing, user-friendliness, speed, security, privacy, streaming performance, server locations and customer service before giving our verdict.

You can do a lot better for the money, but StrongVPN doesn’t have the questionable practices of other services, such as VPN.Express (read our VPN.Express review). It’s not a bad service, though, so if you find that you’re a fan, you won’t be giving up much.

 

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Strengths and Weaknesses

Pros:

  • No-logs policy
  • Killswitch
  • Gets into Netflix
  • Fast close to home
  • 12 simultaneous connections
  • Easy to use
  • OpenVPN scrambling

Cons:

  • Harsh interface
  • Lacking features
  • Mediocre support
  • Small server network

Features

70% - Decent

StrongVPN doesn’t have features beyond what we’d consider “must haves” for a VPN. The only strong point is a killswitch, which cuts your internet connection if the VPN fails. It’s universal, though, meaning you can’t set it to only block certain apps like you can with Astrill’s (read our Astrill review).

There are other miscellaneous features, too, including connecting on start-up, automatically reconnecting if the VPN drops and starting the application with Windows, but, overall, the interface is barren.

Though normally an upside for ease of use, the lack of features just looks lazy here. As we’ll see in the “user-friendliness” section, StrongVPN isn’t strong when it comes to guiding users through the interface. If the application is going to be difficult to use, we’d at least like the features to make the difficulty worth it.

As for what’s missing, the list is long. That said, the most egregious omissions are split tunneling, a speed test and port forwarding.

The only somewhat unusual feature is the ability to scramble packets when using OpenVPN. We’ll talk more about that in the “security” section, but, essentially, it allows you to be even more secure when using the VPN. It’s not common, but we’ve seen multiple providers implement such a feature.

StrongVPN Features Overview

Starts from$ 583per month

General

Payment methods
PayPal, Credit card, AliPay
Accepts cryptocurrency
Simultaneous connections
12
Supports split tunneling
Unlimited bandwidth
Free trial available
Refund period
30 days
Worldwide server amount
650 in 20 countries
Desktop OSes
Windows, MacOS, Linux
Mobile OSes
Android, iOS
Browser extensions
Can be installed on routers

Streaming

Can access Netflix US
Can access BBC iPlayer
Can access Hulu
Can access Amazon Prime Video

Security

Encryption types
256-AES
VPN protocols available
IPSec, OpenVPN, L2TP, SSTP, IKEv2
Enabled at device startup
Allows torrenting
No-logging policy
Passed DNS leak test
Killswitch available
Malware/ad blocker included

Support

Live Chat
24/7
Email support
24/7
Phone support
User forum
Knowledgebase

Pricing

80% - Good

StrongVPN is bland when it comes to pricing. Around $10 per month is what we’ve come to expect from VPNs, with middle-of-the-road options, such as ProtonVPN falling in line (read our ProtonVPN review). Like that service, StrongVPN isn’t the most expensive option out there — read our Hide.me review for that — but you can get more for your money with another provider.

One Month
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • 12 Included Devices
One Year
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • 12 Included Devices
1-year plan $ 5.83 / month
$69.96 billed every year

That said, even compared to better providers, StongVPN’s pricing doesn’t impress. $70 for a year isn’t bad compared to NordVPN (read our NordVPN review), but you can get twice the duration for the same price from Private Internet Access (read our PIA review). Both of those providers also offer multi-year subscriptions, which StrongVPN, unfortunately, does not.

Though not the most common thing to see in VPN pricing, multi-year plans are always something we look for. By allowing a user to subscribe for two or more years — and tacking on a hefty discount — VPNs can encourage patronage of their services. It’s a win-win situation, so StrongVPN’s omission doesn’t look great.

There isn’t a free trial or plan, either. While free VPNs can be bad — read our worst free VPN guide for examples — there are free VPN services that allow the user to see how they work without putting a credit card on record. Windscribe is a perfect example of how free VPNs should work (read our Windscribe review).

The lack of a free trial is somewhat accounted for by StrongVPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee, which, based on our testing, is honored. There are some terms pertaining to purchasing from, say, Apple’s App Store, but the policy is straightforward otherwise.

Though standard in almost every other regard, the number of simultaneous connections is anything but. StrongVPN offers 12 connections with any subscription, which is the highest we’ve seen. It can be installed on routers, too, so you can increase that limit.

As for payment methods, StrongVPN goes back to being bland. It accepts PayPal, credit cards and AliPay. Cryptocurrency junkies will have to send their bitcoin elsewhere.

Ease of Use

70% - Decent

If you’ve seen one VPN checkout, you’ve seen them all, with the exception of AirVPN, which has an infuriating checkout process (read our AirVPN review). After clicking “get started,” all you need to do is choose a plan, enter your email and select a payment method.

Though an email confirmation will be sent to you, you don’t have to verify your email address, so a burner account is fair game. Your email will be your login and a password will be randomly generated for you. Note that it’s a random bundle of letters, numbers and symbols, so you’ll want to use the best password manager to store it.

On the same page, you’ll find the installers for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android. StrongVPN has accompanying setup guides for each platform, but the installation is straightforward. The only exception is if you want to, say, use L2TP on Android. In that case, the guides will be useful.

The installer is fine, if dated. After it’s done installing, you can open the interface and log in using the credentials StrongVPN gave you. We prefer authenticating with device tokens because it’s easier for the user and provides the same level of security, but logging in isn’t backbreaking. If you’re a fan of the token-based approach, read our ExpressVPN review.

Once done, you’ll boot into the interface, which leaves a lot to be desired. StrongVPN shows your IP address, the time you’ve been connected and a small map of where you’re connected to. It opted to use a dark background with bright colors, which can strain your eyes in bright rooms. Though we’re not against the “night mode” look, it shouldn’t be the default.

Connection isn’t difficult, though. The large, green “connect” button will get you secure, with StrongVPN choosing the best server for your location. One annoyance is that you can’t see where the best server is located until after you connect to it.

It feels shockingly fast, too. Our first connection took less than three seconds. When we dug into the settings, we found StrongVPN defaulted to IKEv2, which should be faster than OpenVPN. We’ll talk more about how that changes your security in a later section.

If you want to choose your location, click the “best location available” button. You can choose locations, but not specific servers, which isn’t a bad thing. StrongVPN’s condensed list shouldn’t be hard to scroll through, but a weird lag that happens when spinning the mouse wheel makes it feel more difficult than it should.

Even so, you can search for a location or sort by country or city. Once you’ve selected a location, click “save.” The new location will be the default option that shows up, even if you close and reopen the app.

You can tweak StrongVPN’s settings by clicking the gear icon in the top right corner. We won’t get into every setting — you shouldn’t mess with them unless you know what you’re doing — but there’s one annoyance we’d like to point out.

One of the tabs is labeled “diagnostics,” and, sure enough, it will show a log of your connection for troubleshooting. Though we like seeing a feature like that around, there’s no way to export the log. You’ll have to select everything, copy it and paste it in a separate document.

Speed

70% - Decent

When you stay close to home, StrongVPN is one of the fastest VPN providers around. Mediocre performance internationally means your mileage will vary, though.  It’s clear that some locations are better optimized than others, which is never a good thing when there are so many choices for tunneling.

Location:Ping (ms)Download (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)
Unprotected (St. Louis)8175.4910.66
Atlanta (recommended)45149.979.03
London105144.037.75
Warsaw, Poland16084.383.7
Tel Aviv, Israel17524.412.31
Hong Kong222137.353.13

Surprisingly, StrongVPN’s recommended server was the best performer out of the locations we sampled. In most cases, the recommended server comes close, but there are faster options. Though the initial jump in latency is high, the download speed stayed close to our unprotected score.

The odd man out is the server in Tel Aviv, Israel, which annihilated our speed. During testing, we expected the server in Hong Kong to perform similarly — there’s often a gradient in speed — so we were surprised when it didn’t. Hong Kong’s strong performance is a testament to that location, but not to StrongVPN’s network.

Inconsistency is the key here. Mixing good and bad performance is never a good thing. It translates to frustrating moments when trying to nail down a server.

One upside is the latency, which stayed low during testing. While it’s still an omission from our best VPN for gaming guide because of the initial jump in ping, StrongVPN’s results aren’t bad.

Security

80% - Good

StrongVPN has a surprising number of security options. By default, your connection is secured with IPSec using the IKEv2 VPN protocol. As far as VPN security goes, that’s an odd choice, considering OpenVPN with AES 256-bit encryption is almost always better.

That said, the choice is enlightening. IKEv2 can easily switch between WiFi and cellular networks, making it an excellent choice for mobile devices (see our best VPN for iPhone and best VPN for Android guides). It’s not a great choice for desktop, though, so we recommend changing your protocol there as soon as possible.

You can choose between IKEv2, OpenVPN, SSTP and L2TP. OpenVPN should be your first choice because it provides AES 256-bit to secure your connection (read our description of encryption). On OpenVPN, StrongVPN allows you to change your transport protocol — either to UDP or TCP — and select the specific port you’re tunneling through.

Though not applicable for a lot of users, changing your transport protocol and port can help bypass firewalls. StrongVPN points out on its website that L2TP and IKEv2 are easily blocked, and it suggests TCP 443 or UDP 53 on OpenVPN as alternatives.

There’s also an option to scramble your packets on OpenVPN. The feature is often seen in proprietary protocols, such as VyprVPN’s Chameleon protocol (read our VyprVPN review). Scrambling your packets is a good idea if you’re tunneling out of a country with strict censorship, effectively bypassing deep packet inspection.

In practice, those security measures pay off. We tested DNS leaks using ipleak.org and StrongVPN came out clean with minimal redirects. It didn’t leak our IP address or WebRTC information, either.

Privacy

75% - Good

StrongVPN is a no-logs VPN provider. Though it’s not as privacy-centric as Mullvad (read our Mullvad review), StrongVPN’s clear privacy policy and consistent track record give us hope. That said, it operates out of the U.S., so those concerned with government surveillance should probably steer clear.

There are no bones made about it in the privacy policy: “StrongVPN does not collect or log any traffic of its services.”

When you sign up, you’re required to put an email address and payment method on file, which StrongVPN logs for obvious reasons. Outside of that, it knows nothing about you.

The only exception is if you pay with a credit card. In that case, StrongVPN also needs your full name and billing address, and you can’t use burner information like you can with your email. It’s unclear if your billing information is tied to your VPN usage like it is with Buffered VPN
(read our Buffered VPN review), but it is clear those concerned with privacy shouldn’t use a credit card.

StrongVPN must provide, modify or delete that information if requested to by EU customers to stay in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation.

All of this should be taken with a grain of salt, though. StrongVPN is based in the U.S., which has proven that it isn’t above data collection. If you need to stay off the radar, we recommend using a service that’s based in a country with good privacy laws. Our best VPN services for China guide is a nice place to start.

We found something interesting during testing, too. Some of the servers in StrongVPN’s network were registered to StackPath, a content delivery network that has a small stake in IPVanish (read our IPVanish review).

Though we can’t connect too many dots, IPVanish has been caught logging user information in the past.

That said, StackPath is a CDN, so it makes sense that some servers would be registered to it. We’re not claiming the two providers are connected — it’s likely they aren’t — but it should be noted.

Streaming Performance

80% - Good

StrongVPN performs well with streaming platforms. It broke down the barriers of Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Hulu, but it was still blocked by Amazon Prime Video. Though not a contender for our best VPN for streaming guide because of other issues, the access is undeniable.

What’s great is that StrongVPN not only accessed those platforms, but did so across multiple servers. Our sampling suggests you’ll always be able to stream, even if you use a different server.

That said, StrongVPN isn’t perfect, and that’s why it didn’t make our best VPN for Netflix or best VPN for BBC iPlayer guides. If it was based on streaming performance alone, StrongVPN wouldn’t only be a contender, it’d likely be a frontrunner.

Server Locations

60% - Fair

As for server locations, don’t expect a lot from StrongVPN. Like many middle-of-the-road providers, its network is mostly limited to the U.S. and Europe, with a few locations dispersed in the freer parts of Asia. In total, there are around 650 servers, but they only cover 20 countries.

Africa is a blind spot, as are most of the Middle East and Asia. In the Middle East, there’s Israel and that’s it. Asia is better, with locations in Singapore, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Hong Kong. That’s a tight grouping, though, and the rest of Asia is untouched.

None of that comes as a surprise — StrongVPN is simply falling in line with our expectations — but the spread doesn’t look great compared to an industry-leading service in server locations such as HideMyAss (read our HideMyAss review).

Customer Service

60% - Fair

StrongVPN’s support covers the basics, but the reps we spoke with felt anything but inviting.

For self-help, there’s a knowledgebase that’s split into three section: “setup guides,” “troubleshooting” and “FAQ.” As mentioned, the setup guides are basic, but you’ll want to check the section if you intend to set up the VPN manually.

The other articles in the knowledgebase are scattered. It feels like the knowledgebase is living, addressing issues as they come up, rather than accounting for problems users may have in the future. Though the troubleshooting section has a few articles for solving problems, most feel better suited for the FAQ.

The FAQ section is mostly billing answers and reiterations from other areas. There, you’ll find answers to questions like “how to use StrongVPN for Windows computers?” and “how do I change servers?”

Direct support is comprised of live chat and email. When we reached out, StrongVPN took a couple days to get back, which isn’t bad, but could be better. The rep answered our question by redirecting us to another area on the website. That’s never a good thing.

Live chat did the same thing. Though it is available around the clock, it takes more than a few minutes to get connected to an agent. Plus, the agents aren’t knowledgeable about the product and fall into the same trap of providing the least amount of information possible.

The Verdict

There’s nothing impressive about StrongVPN. Though it doesn’t do anything terribly wrong, the fact that it can’t stand out is a massive liability. The prices are on par with every other provider’s, as are the mediocre customer service and lackluster feature set. The only redeeming quality is high speed when tunneling close to home.

That said, it has a nice set of security features and a no-logs policy, so if you’re keen on StrongVPN, you could do a lot worse. For most users, though, we recommend reading our other VPN reviews.

What do you think of StrongVPN? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.

StrongVPN Review

Some great features, but lacking in others.

StrongVPN is a powerful service with some unusual features, but balances this out by not offering features common with other providers. The overall impression is a service that could be good, but is simply too bland. Read our full review for the details.
Starts from$ 583per month
Visit StrongVPN

One thought on “StrongVPN”

  1. Strange company…just bought their service, set up the software…received an email from them asking that I pay them with Bitcoin instead.
    There’s funds on the credit card I used, everything is valid…
    I emailed them back asking, “Why?” and they responded that it was due to them having made that decision. Huh? Lol
    Company seems a little fishy to me.

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StrongVPN Review

Some great features, but lacking in others.

StrongVPN is a powerful service with some unusual features, but balances this out by not offering features common with other providers. The overall impression is a service that could be good, but is simply too bland. Read our full review for the details.
Starts from$ 583per month
Visit StrongVPN
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