At first glance, StrongVPN seemed like a fairly new service to me. But, it surprised me to no end that they are in the business since 2005! That’s even older than some of the most popular services out there! So why hasn’t StrongVPN taken off, despite so many years of experience in the field?
Well, by sifting through previous reviews, I got to know that this service was seriously unusable a couple of years back. This might explain the obscurity they find themselves in.
But what now? Have they improved and are worthy of being termed the Best VPN?
I don’t know!
And that’s exactly why I’ll be conducting a comprehensive StrongVPN Review in order to find out as to what exactly its current performance is and where does it stand as a service in the industry. I’ll also touch upon different facets of its service including speeds, Netflix unblocking, pricing and more.
Is this really a “Strong” VPN? let’s find it out!
StrongVPN Security Overview
For a VPN to be acceptable even, it needs to be absolutely secure for the user to trust its privacy with. Other factors also weigh in, but security is the number-1 function that users want VPNs to deliver.
Well, a VPN security bastion has four crucial elements i.e. encryption level, protocol support, logging policy and jurisdiction.
Encryption Level Review
StrongVPN scores full marks for offering AES-256 military-grade encryption, which is the same level of encryption with which the CIA also secures its sensitive files.
But I am not surprised by this much and that’s because AE-256 encryption has become, like the norm in the industry currently, and even the smaller providers are offering it.
If the provider didn’t offer it, only then it would have been news, but when it is actually offering it, then its nothing to mush over as it’s a must-have feature for a good enough VPN service.
Protocol Support Review
Now for the protocol support, StrongVPN offers you the option to choose between protocols like OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, IKEv2 & even SSTP.
OpenVPN is the most secure out of this lot as its never ever been compromised till now, so I recommend all users that don’t change this protocol unless you the speeds are absolutely unworkable.
Logging Policy Review
As far as the logging policy goes, I found StrongVPN highly reliable. Yes, they do collect some sort of personal information like your name and email address but they don’t collect your browsing history, connection timestamps or anything related to the data generated by your connection, which is commendable.
DNS Leak Protection
And as far as the security of StrongVPN’s server network goes, I was again mightily impressed as there were no DNS leaks and neither were there any WebRTC leaks!
These two leaks occur when a provider’s server infrastructure is not up to the mark in protecting your real IP from being given away.
For a layman, these two issues are loopholes that data thieves, hackers and snoopers can exploit to get to your real IP and location. So its imperative that a VPN can protect against such issues.
And this is exactly what StrongVPN offers, protection against such leaks.
Operating Jurisdiction Review
Lake Tahoe, United States.
This is where StrongVPN is headquartered.
Is this a good point, certainly not!
And that’s because, USA is one of the worst locations for a VPN to be based in thanks to the country’s subversive and regressive data retention laws. The country is also a member of data sharing alliances like the 14 Eyes Group, which makes it even worse.
According to our study on data privacy in different jurisdictions around the world, US doesn’t seem like a very good choice for a VPN to setup base in, so despite all good security virtues of the service like top level encryption, OpenVPN Protocol support and a well rounded logging policy, StrongVPN still doesn’t rank in as a highly secure VPN.
The US authorities can come in knocking on their door looking for user data, which is really a big threat to user privacy, compelling me to mark down StrongVPN significantly.
App File Check
The last thing I needed to check as far as StrongVPN’s security is concerned is how safe its apps are for you system. Do they contain any malware or are they clean enough to be used with trust?
I ran a test on VirusTotal for their Windows app and here are the results from it:
One Engine Detected!
StrongVPN’s Windows app is not safe for you to be using on your system as it has high chances of infecting it and affecting its performance, or even compromising your sensitive data. Another point ruining the otherwise fairly, good enough service.
StrongVPN Server Review
Is becoming very typical of VPNs to offer a majority of their servers in North America, Europe and some of them in the Far East, while ignoring the rest of the world. StrongVPN doesn’t differ by any account from that assumption currently.
Its server count is good, 650+ servers to be exact, but still that makes it own a medium range server infrastructure. The bigger VPNs usually have 2000 servers on average like PureVPN and ExpressVPN.
This server network is spread over 26 countries worldwide to be precise, which is not much, but I can overlook the lopsided server spread if the performance is up to the mark.
StrongVPN also doesn’t add newer servers that too often, so if you go for it, don’t expect a drastic improvement in the locations you have access to connect servers in.
The server spread is also not that good either as StrongVPN, like every other VPN, focuses on just offering server coverage to North American and European regions, with virtually zero servers outside that area. For users who don’t live in these regions, StrongVPN would be quite slow considering the fact that a connection would have to travel a fair amount of distance to land up on a certain server.
So, in simple words, StrongVPN’s server network will have a very limited appeal unless it either diversifies its current server spread to encompass other regions of the world or it adds more servers in these areas in addition to the ones that already exist.
StrongVPN Speeds Review
All VPNs cause a noticeable amount of speed loss and that’s understandable considering all the load that security functionalities like encryption and protocol based tunneling. But, even the speed loss should be kept to a minimum or the user will have a pathetic experience, and herein lies StrongVPN’s biggest flaw!
StrongVPN’s speeds are nothing to write home about at all. Even when I changed 5 different servers, I couldn’t get more than 40% of the actual speed of my internet connection. Some servers didn’t even go that far, as they barely registered on the speed tests.
I am using a 50Mbps connection for testing, so the average download speeds after connecting most good VPNs is around the 35-40Mbps mark. I am not talking fast here, I am talking about average here, but take a look at the speeds that I got with StrongVPN when I connected to its New York Servers, which was the fastest among the ones I tested:
- Download Speeds: 16.82 Mbps
- Upload Speeds: 6.76 Mbps
- Ping: 93ms
That’s a speed loss of nearly 70% in download speeds and an even more demoralizing 85% in upload speeds. Its just not good enough to be used for anything, whether its streaming, torrenting or just browsing.
StrongVPN needs to seriously solve this problem or it will always be a service that no one recommends to others.
StrongVPN Netflix Review
So does its servers unblock Netflix US?
A Big yes and surprisingly too!
I wasn’t seriously expecting StrongVPN out of all VPNs to be unblocking this Holy Grail streaming site!
Since Netflix’s VPN ban came in to force, even the biggest of services have failed to overcome it and that’s because, this VPN ban is not your average geo-restriction. It’s a sophisticated and brutal system that chucks out any connection deemed to be routed through a VPN enable connection.
So unblocking Netflix US through this service came as one of the best features of this service.
Too bad that their speeds are just not good enough to support HD streaming, forcing me to overlook its capability to unblock the site itself, because if the speeds are not good, what will you do even when you unblock the site?
StrongVPN Torrenting Review
Torrenting cannot be done without a VPN these days as that would be tantamount to committing an incredibly stupid act that makes you face consequences like hefty fines or even jail time.
Everyone knows that most of the material available on Torrenting sites is of questionable background and is not officially supported with a copyright cover, so if you download something from there, chances are that copyright trolls might trace your IP address down and send you a legal notice.
To prevent this, VPNs come in handy, but only those ones that offer stellar security and top speeds.
StrongVPN allows Torrenting on its servers and its security is strong enough to hide your IP from copyright trolls, however, the provider’s Achilles heel i.e. speeds can be a big downer for Torrenting enthusiasts as downloads can be extremely slow at the time.
So, I won’t recommend you to go for StrongVPN if you want a VPN for Torrenting since it cannot currently offer the kind of speeds that are required for heavy-duty Torrenting activities like downloading movies or large software files among others.
StrongVPN Pricing Review
Pricing is often not an issue with users when it comes to VPN if the performance they are getting out of the service is strong enough to justify the price tags. ExpressVPN has ruled the roost in the VPN domain despite being priced twice as high as similar services, just due to the incredible reliability and power packed performance it offers.
But when you don’t have the goods to back your service up, high price tags are not a good idea at all.
StrongVPN is a similar case.
It offers just two kinds of pricing plans:
- Monthly: $10/month
- Yearly: $5.83/month ($69.99 billed once)
The monthly prices are exorbitant but that can be overlooked since most providers have expensive short terms plans in order to propel the user into buying long term subscriptions.
However, the yearly plan priced at nearly $70 is at least 40% overpriced as there are providers who offer incredibly better performance and more features than StrongVPN and still come at a lesser price for e.g. Surfshark.
StrongVPN needs to lower its price tags considering the fact that its speeds are not that good and it still lacks a lot of features like DoubleVPN or SplitTunnelling that other providers offer.
StrongVPN Payment Method and Free Trial Review
You can pay for StrongVPN’s pricing plans via three different payment methods:
- Credit/Debit Cards
These methods are among the more popular payment methods out there so most users would have no difficulty in paying for any of StrongVPN’s subscription plans.
The only thing missing here is that the provider doesn’t offer a cryptocurrency based payment method, which should be there in all VPNs as it allows the user to pay anonymously, thereby allowing it to keep its freedom of choice over whether or not it needs to share its payment details.
You also get a 30 day refund period in which you can contact their chat support and ask for your money back. There are no back strings attached or any hidden conditions, so the offer is valid.
StrongVPN Client App Review
StrongVPN now boasts of a wide repertoire of VPN clients including those for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. But what was more surprising? I wasn’t expecting this provider to offer a dedicated app for Firestick! But it does offer one! And couple that with StrongVPN’s ability to unblock Netflix from a US server and you’ve got a good enough VPN for streaming.
The provider came under a lot of criticism in the recent past for its clunky apps that were reminiscent of software from the early 2000s, but after the revamp and upgrades, StrongVPN’s app repository can be considered to be up there with some of the more better clients apps by renowned providers out there.
There is still a long way to go for this provider as it’s apps are still not as simplistic to use as those offered by top providers like ExpressVPN, but if you look at the zero downtime or crash issues that I noticed during the testing phase, StrongVPN really deserves pat on the back for putting in such an enormous effort towards making its apps as usable as possible.
StrongVPN also offers innate router support and you can even set up the provider manually through the extensive setup guides it offers for platforms like Linux and Ubuntu.
StrongVPN Support Review
The provider recently added a chat support window and moved on from its dated, email-based support system.
Customer execs don’t put forth canned responses and actually talk to you like real support execs should. I sent them a made-up a question and their reply was swift and clear enough.
On the other hand, StrongVPN has a very good support repository where you can get access to all sorts of setup and troubleshooting guides.
Despite bringing in many different, laudable improvements to their service, StrongVPN still needs to plug a lot of holes and caveats before it can be recommended by me to other users. Some of the biggest problems points that need urgent attention include pathetic speeds, unsafe jurisdiction, high priced subscription plans among others.
If StrongVPN solves these problems and make its service’s reliability match that of the industry’s requirements, the provider has potential to be counted among the best in the industry, but for now, you need to look somewhere else if you are looking for the best VPN.