A longstanding VPN trying to keep pace with the market leaders. There have been a few changes over the past twelve months, but there is still room for improvement in some crucial areas.
- A massive 12 concurrent connections.
- A big selection of user-friendly apps.
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Solid no user logs policy.
- Unblocks US Netflix.
- Small server network.
- Average connection speeds.
- Monthly price expensive.
StrongVPN is one of the oldest VPNs based in the US, but one which has made a number of improvements over the past couple of years.
In our new StrongVPN review, we take a closer look to see how they compare to the market-leaders.
We ran speed tests with StrongVPN on a regular household internet connection in the UK for a number of weeks. In general terms, their connection speeds were ok and download speed was decent without being exceptional.
Undertaking everyday online tasks such as browsing and checking emails was not a problem.
However, when trying to stream video content from overseas using StrongVPN (rather than their StrongDNS feature), we did run into a few buffering problems which necessitated switching servers more than once.
To perform a definitive speeds test on StrongVPN, we downloaded a test file from different servers around the world to test the download speed. Our regular connection speed with no VPN connection was 40.72 Mbps.
StrongVPN's connection speeds were as follows:
- UK – 32.12 Mbps
- Netherlands – 31.64 Mbps
- Switzerland – 30.92 Mbps
- Sweden – 31.24 Mbps
- France – 31.38 Mbps
- New York, US – 27.52 Mbps
- Australia – 22.93 Mbps
These speeds are not fantastic. But they are not the worst we have ever seen either. And with the inclusion of their StrongDNS feature as standard, it is still possible to stream content from all around the world without too many problems.
StrongVPN claims to have a no logging policy which extends to metadata as well as your internet activity.
They are open about the fact that they do keep some customer details such as your email address, but insist this is only to set up accounts and communicate with customers.
However, they have not yet gone so far as to get their no logs policy independently verified which some other VPN providers have done. There has been some evidence of them playing around with user reviews too which is not ideal for any VPN services.
StrongVPN offers 12 simultaneous connections to every subscriber with plenty of IP addresses available.
They increased the number from 5 to 12 simultaneous connections a couple of years back and while it hasn't improved further in the past twelve months, 12 simultaneous connections is more than enough for most VPN users as it lets you connect all of your devices and even your family's too.
StrongVPN is based in the United States which is not ideal.
The United States has a long track record of snooping on its citizens internet activity and monitoring what its companies are doing. It also a member of the 5/9/14 eyes information sharing alliances.
Having said that, it doesn't yet have a data retention law which applies to VPNs like StrongVPN.
So, StrongVPN is not obliged to log your data by local law. But there are far more privacy-friendly countries they could be operating from.
StrongVPN's customer support is pretty good and crucially includes a live chat feature.
The live chat service is available 24/7 and is staffed by helpful and knowledgable staff. With live chat, you can look forward to getting quick responses and the information you need. In our tests, we never had to wait more than a few minutes.
In addition to live chat, StrongVPN also offers a ticketed email support service and their website has a wide range of setup guides, information, and FAQs available.
There is no phone support which we know customers like, but live chat support has supplanted phone support for most VPN service these days and does offer a faster and more flexible service.
StrongVPN has expanded its server network considerably over the past twelve months.
It has leapt from 650+ servers to 950+ and while they previously offered VPN servers in 20 countries this has now grown to 35+ countries.
We suggest in our previous review that StrongVPN needed to invest in its servers and the countries they were available in we are glad to see they were listening.
They also offer over 59,000 IP addresses so there is plenty to go around.
StrongVPN offers an impressive number of servers with a decent geographic spread. There are servers in Europe, North America, South America, Asia, and Australasia available.
The server provision in the US and Europe is particularly strong.
For most people, this number of servers will be sufficient, but there is still room for further investment so here's hoping Strong VPN continues to invest in the year ahead.
Does StrongVPN use virtual servers?
Yes. StrongVPN has confirmed to us that they do have some virtual servers.
However, they were not able to tell us how many or which countries they were in which we found a tiny bit troubling.
Virtual servers can be problematic if you're trying to avoid connecting to a certain region or jurisdiction. With them not listing which regions they're in it is hard to make an informed decision of where best to connect.
We would like to see this number reduce as the StrongVPN service continues to develop. Alternatively, highlight which these are in their server list.
Does StrongVPN work in China?
Yes, Strong VPN does work in China.
This is to their credit since the Chinese Communist regime has worked hard to try and block any VPN service that enable people to access an uncensored and unrestricted internet.
It is worth checking with the StrongVPN customer support about the best way to connect in China. For Mac, iOS and other Apple devices, manual setups are the best approach but should work.
The legacy app also works with Macs and is the recommended approach for Windows and Android devices too. Customer support will point you in the right direction.
But beware that the recommended methods to use Strong VPN in China do not come with a kill switch which means that if your VPN connection drops, your data and web traffic could be leaked.
Security and Safety
Protocols & Encryption
StrongVPN has a great selection of VPN protocols available to choose from across all devices.
They are a little bit coyer about what encryption many of these protocols use but we have managed to ascertain that their OpenVPN protocol uses AES-256 bit encryption with a 2048-bit RSA key for handshaking.
This standard OpenVPN connection is on a par with most other VPN providers and while stronger encryption is available, this should be more than sufficient for most users to keep their online data secure.
StrongVPN supports an impressively large selection of VPN protocol. As well as
They also offer the option of choosing between TCP and UDP and the useful Scramble OpenVPN patch which helps to mask VPN traffic.
StrongVPN has also recently added WireGuard , the new faster and more secure protocol that a number of VPNs have added. With StrongVPN this is available on their Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android client.
If you are conscious about your online privacy, it is well worth a read to find out which other companies they work with, what data they collect, and how they operate.
For EU-based customers, StrongVPN is GDPR compliant and, as we noted above, their no logs claims looks to be a legitimate one.
However, these claims haven't been audited so it's worth remembering you're taking their statements on face value.
Other Notable Features
StrongVPN is a fairly simple provider which doesn't offer many of the bells and whistles of some of their rivals. For some users, this will be a disappointment, for others, such simplicity is a bonus.
The one additional feature that is included with all StrongVPN subscriptions is their StrongDNS service. This is a neat a standalone SmartDNS service that lets you unblock content from around the world without the need for the VPN service and without encryption.
Just connect to one of their DNS servers for a fast streaming experience but without the security and privacy protections offered by a VPN. StrongVPN does offer DNS leak protection. A DNS leak can compromise security so this is welcome.
It is really useful for unblocking content such as the BBC iPlayer or US Netflix without using a VPN. Using StrongDNS means your data isn't encrypted which makes your connection faster but less secure.
If you have slow internet speeds, it is a great way to enjoy blocked content without the irritation of buffering.
One feature which is becoming increasingly essential but is lacking from some of their apps at the moment is a kill switch. A kill switch stops your data leaking if your VPN connection is cut and is vital for security-conscious users especially in places like China.
Unfortunately StrongVPN only offer a kill switch on the latest versions of their Windows and Mac apps. A kill switch is not available on the legacy client recommended for use in China or on their mobile client either.
We hope this will be added to their service soon.
Is StrongVPN safe for torrenting?
Yes. Most VPNs are happy to let users torrent and many have dedicated servers support it.
StrongVPN says that all of its servers are configured to permit Bittorrent downloads.
All of the StrongVPN apps use a similar design, look good and are very easy to use.
Their iOS app, which we tested on an iPhone but can also be used on other iOS devices, offers a simple one-click connect feature, a map showing which country you are connected to, and details of your IP Address and how long you have been connected for.
Under the settings menu are options to choose a server from a different location and options to manage your account, as well as links to customer support.
Their Android app follows a similar pattern too. It is all very simple and user-friendly, which is exactly what most users want from a mobile app.
One slight disappointment is that the map is not interactive and so to change server, you have to manually search through the list. An interactive map would improve the customer experience, especially on mobile devices.
The StrongVPN desktop apps on MacOS and Windows devices are, if anything, even simpler. On their app, you can see your IP Address and connection time at the top.
While underneath the world map showing where you are connected, there is a connect button and a button which allows you to choose which server you want to connect to.
Clicking on this brings up a list of StrongVPN servers around the world which you can choose from.
Further settings can be controlled from within the app from the Settings section.
We also tested them for various leaks such as DNS leaks, WebRTC leaks and more and can confirm they don't which is a huge bonus.
StrongVPN offers quite a few additional apps on top of those for regular operating systems.
On their website, you will find links to apps for Amazon, which can be used with Fire TV Sticks and Fire TV, Linux, Ubuntu Linux, Synology NAS, Kodi, Amazon Kindle, Chromium, and various different VPN routers.
This means there aren't too many devices which don't have a dedicated StrongVPN ready to use. If you do encounter one, there are also lots of manual setup guides which, while a bit more complicated, should help you to get things set up on things like Chrome OS devices.
It doesn't support any gaming consoles at the moment which is a shame.
Does StrongVPN work with Netflix?
Yes. As a matter of fact, when it comes to unblocking US Netflix, UK Netflix and other versions of Netflix too, there isn't a much better VPN service than StrongVPN.
It is able to unblock Netflix with ease on almost all of its servers. Netflix works almost as hard to stop VPNs as China does so this is quite impressive.
If you want to watch US Netflix from a different region or on your holidays, StrongVPN is definitely a good VPN for the job. It is one of the few VPNs that we can truthfully say works with Netflix.
Does StrongVPN work with BBC iPlayer?
Again, yes. StrongVPN offers a range of UK-based streaming servers that can unblock the BBC iPlayer no matter where in the world you are.
Does StrongVPN work with Amazon Prime?
Amazon Prime Video is one of the trickiest streaming services to unblock, but StrongVPN is up to the job and is able to unblock Amazon Prime video.
Your mileage may vary with Amazon Prime though and it often fairs better when watching on regular computers or laptops than on dedicated devices like the Amazon Fire TV, for example.
Does StrongVPN work with Disney+?
Again yes. Disney+ is based in the US but offers the service in select countries around the world.
Our tests found that StrongVPN is one of the few VPNs able to unblock Disney+. This is definitely one of the StrongVPN pros.
Does StrongVPN work with other streaming services?
VPN services that can unblock most streaming services are few and far between. But StrongVPN is one of them.
In our tests, it was able to unblock all of the above plus Hulu, ITV Player, All4 and many more. If you want a VPN provider to facilitate your streaming, StrongVPN is an excellent choice.
Prices and Plans
StrongVPN's subscription options are extremely straightforward and incentivised to persuade you to sign up to their annual package – but far less than it used to be. There are just two packages available and the annual one works out quite a bit cheaper than the monthly one:
- 1 Month – $10.00 (£7.20)
- 12 Month – $5.83 a month (£4.19)
Prices on the service have changed over the year and the monthly price is now quite expensive.
Taking the annual package is much cheaper and there are often annual deals with prices as low as $2.91 per month so it's worth checking them out around holiday periods to pick up a bargain.
There is a 30-day money-back guarantee available with the annual package, so you do have plenty of time to try StrongVPN before you have to commit any money.
Payment can be made by the usual credit cards, including American Express.
There is also a PayPal payment option and, more worryingly, an Alipay one too. This is a clear nod to potential Chinese customers but given their links to the Chinese Communist regime, we wouldn't recommend using Alipay.
There is no Bitcoin payment option anymore which, for the more privacy-conscious users. Credit cards payments mean there will be a record of your custom and sadly that is unavoidable with StrongVPN.
VPN apps can be downloaded directly from the website or via your relevant app store if using a mobile device once you've completed setup.
StrongVPN has been around a long time, but it has undoubtedly improved again in the past twelve months.
Their server network has grown and while it is still not the biggest it is more competitive than it was. Privacy policies and encryption are sound and their user-friendly apps are impressive and the adoption of the WireGuard protocol is welcome.
StrongVPN offers excellent streaming provisions, can be made to work in China, and is easy to use.
On the downside, it does still collect some user data, the kill switch feature is not available everywhere, and speeds are only middling.
StrongVPN leaves us with a strong sense of, ‘almost there'.
There is the guts of a superb VPN in there somewhere, but there are too many areas where just a few tweaks are needed. Once these improvements have been made, StrongVPN could be up there with the very best.
30-day money back guarantee