Thunder VPN is a free VPN that suffers from slow speeds, an invasive logging policy, and zero customer support. Its encryption is unsafe and the VPN doesn’t work to unblock Netflix or other streaming services. Thunder VPN’s app might be free, but it comes with considerable risk to your privacy and security.
With over 10 million installations on the Play Store, it’s important that Thunder VPN is held to account and reviewed by an expert assessor. That’s what we’re here to do in this Thunder VPN review.
Thunder VPN is a free, Android-only VPN that offers unlimited free bandwidth. While it isn’t the worst VPN we’ve reviewed, it comes close. Thunder VPN performed badly in almost every category we tested including checks for speed, security, and streaming quality.
We recorded massive speed losses when using Thunder VPN on all available servers. The VPN does not work to unblock US Netflix and it does not support torrenting, although we had some small success unblocking BBC iPlayer.
Its invasive logging policy includes the collection of your IP address, which means any activity can be traced directly back to your identity. Combined with outdated SSL encryption and a lack of essential features like a VPN kill switch, it’s clear that this is not a VPN you should trust with your data.
Though you could use Thunder VPN to stream BBC iPlayer, this comes with a considerable risk to your security and privacy. Let’s take a look at our quick summary of Thunder VPN’s pros and cons.
Thunder VPN Key Summary
|Logging Policy||Intrusive Logging|
|Jurisdiction||US (Five-Eyes member)|
|IP Addresses||Not disclosed|
|Works in China||No|
|Support||Online Resources & Email|
Who is Thunder VPN?
About & Logging
Thunder VPN is owned by the app developer Signal Lab. They are also behind Secure VPN – another popular free app.
Signal Lab actually doesn’t have a company website, but has threadbare sites for its apps. There isn’t much to learn from any of these.
The only reference to itself as a company is a link to an (unprofessional) gmail address.
The corporate structure behind Thunder VPN is shrouded in mystery.
Its corporate address is listed as a US address in Arkansas (but the zip code is actually based in California).
But this address is for payment processes only. Our independent research discovered that Thunder VPN are, in fact, “independent developers from Hong Kong”.
And yet, there are no companies called Signal Lab currently registered in Hong Kong.
The geographical location of a VPN service is important to know, as they are obliged to follow the laws of that country or region – laws that can differ greatly in relation to a free internet.
This lack of transparency is a cause for concern. When you use a VPN, you are trusting them to protect your data and secure your privacy; you are essentially handing your data to it. Not knowing who is behind it should give you pause before you sign up.
Thunder VPN claims a “strict no-logging policy” on its Google Play Store listing, and reiterates this claim on its FAQ. A no logs policy implies not storing online activity details of users, including their IP address.
- IP Address
- ISP (Internet Service Provider)
- OS version
- Language of the device
- App identifier
- App version
- Independent device identifier
- Ad identifier
- Device manufacturer and model
- Email address
- Time zone
- Network state (WiFi)
- Times when connected to our service
- Choice of server location
- Total amount of data transferred per day
It then follows all of this, as if not enough, with “etc.” This ambiguous and opaque approach to the collection of personal data and private information is unacceptable.
To be clear: there is no excuse for logging this amount of data. There is no detail about deletion policies, metadata, retention period or anything else.
When we tasked ThunderVPN with an explanation, they told us that they “keep it for one month for analysis”. This directly contradicts its marketing claims and prior assurance, which is dishonest. In short, Thunder VPN does log your data and it is not a good choice for privacy-focused users.
Like most VPN providers who collect data, Thunder VPN claims that this is done in the name of a ‘better service’ but we recommend using a VPN service that doesn’t log your activity.
Outdated security & no kill switch
Encryption & Security
Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.
There is very little information about the security measures and VPN protocols used to protect user data by Thunder VPN. The FAQ page of Thunder VPN’s website reads, “we use SSL to encrypt your internet data.”
That may sound impressive, but SSL (Standard Layer Security) is an outdated and weak level of protection made in 1995. The industry-standard VPN encryption protocol is now OpenVPN with the AES-256 cipher, but this is simply not available within Thunder VPN’s apps.
Surprisingly, the VPN passed our IP and DNS leak tests, which is one positive amongst many negatives.
In short, Thunder VPN is not safe to use. Its encryption is weak, it lacks a VPN kill switch, and it has an invasive logging policy that involves the collection of your IP address and connection data. There are no additional security features on offer either. If you’re looking to secure your connection or protect your privacy, Thunder VPN is not a safe option.
One of the slowest VPN services we’ve tested
Speed & Reliability
We recorded massive speed losses when using ThunderVPN on all of its available servers. We measured average download speeds of just 1.93Mbps when connecting to a nearby VPN server, which is nowhere near fast enough for reliable streaming, torrenting, or even casual browsing.
Here are the results of our most recent speed tests:
Download speed without ThunderVPN: 52.2 Mbps
Download speed with ThunderVPN: 1.93 Mbps
Our download speed loss when ThunderVPN is running: 96%
Local Speed Test Results
Before using Thunder VPN:
When connected to Thunder VPN:
This amount of speed loss on local connections is quite terrible.
From our testing lab in the UK, we measured ThunderVPN’s average speeds connecting out to various locations worldwide. These were the results:
- USA: 1.93Mbps (download) & 32.66Mbps (upload)
- Germany: 1.94Mbps (download) & 44.70Mbps (upload)
ThunderVPN is at least consistent, but consistently bad.
Unblocks BBC iPlayer but doesn’t work with Netflix
Streaming & Torrenting
Thunder VPN works well with BBC iPlayer and has done so for a while to its credit.
It’s free UK server presents no issues; there is barely any buffer time required and the content streams at good quality. This is good news for fans of the streaming service.
But Thunder VPN has made no progress in unblocking US Netflix. Both its US East and US West servers fail to bypass the streaming service’s proxy detection. As a result, Thunder VPN will not work to stream Netflix content from other international libraries.
If you need a VPN for the purpose of streaming, check out our pick of the best here.
Thunder VPN make the point in its terms of service that there are certain activities that can lead to a termination of your account, including “Uploading, downloading, posting, reproducing, or distribution of any content protected by copyright.”
This means that you should be careful not to torrent copyrighted material when using the service. If you do, Thunder VPN states:
“You may be held responsible for any and all damages incurred by Thunder VPN , including any amounts charged by any outside entity due to said violation(s).”
It’s unlikely you’ll be tempted when using Thunder VPN, as it’s slow and lacking security features.
The Thunder VPN app claims to work for torrenting, on services like BitTorrent, but that wasn’t the case when we tested it. These free VPNs will work, though.
Fake IPs and small server list
Thunder VPN presents the option of eight available countries to connect to.
It used to have nine available countries, including Japan, but this has since been removed.
Perhaps its removal was best because whenever we connected to Japan we would register IP addresses in other countries.
Either way, ThunderVPN makes no effort to serve Asian users. The furthest Eastern point of connection is Germany.
This is a heavily Euro-centric list, leaving almost everyone else beside North America by the wayside.
We’ve experienced fake connections in other countries too. For example, The Netherlands would constantly connects us to a French IP. They seemed to have sorted this out since our original criticisms, but ThunderVPN isn’t the most reliable.
There are also no city-level options, with the exception of the US that has options for East and West.
These are the available nations as it appears in the app:
- United Kingdom
- United States
Will not bypass Chinese censorship
Thunder VPN comes with no obfuscation tools — the thing required to beat sophisticated censorship regimes.
There’s little chance that Thunder VPN is going to work in China, UAE, Russia, Turkey or anywhere else where censorship is rife.
Only Available on Android
Platforms & Devices
Thunder VPN is an Android-only VPN.
There is an identically-named app on the iOS store, but iPhone should users should be aware that it is an unrelated product that we are not testing here.
Functional, well-designed applications
Ease of Use
How to Install & Set Up Thunder VPN
The Thunder VPN app has a functional, simple to use design and it’s also pleasing to the eye.
The main page features an adolescent Thor who suddenly jumps into lightning action when you connect to a server.
While this is very far from the god of VPNs, there is a degree of care in design and branding that elevates it above some of the more lazily produced free VPN providers that we see.
It’s simple, but also rudimentary. There are barely any customization or configuration options at all. You can select an option for automatic connection and toggle notifications, but that’s the extent of it.
As is the way with free VPNs, there are pop-up ads throughout. It’s more annoying than usual with Thunder VPN, as a lot of ads run for a minimum duration before the option to exit. It’s usually about five seconds, which doesn’t sound long – but certainly feels it.
It’s also worth mentioning that some customers have reported connections cutting out randomly, or when the phone is asleep. Added security like a VPN kill switch would help with that flaw, but that’s not an available feature.
Basic customer support
Thunder VPN has a FAQ for customer support, which is welcome but far from exhaustive.
If you don’t find an answer here (and it’s likely you won’t), there is a contact email address, but it can’t be seen on the app. Head to the website and you can contact an (unprofessional) Gmail address, the same one it uses for an identical VPN service called Secure VPN.
In the app, you can head to ‘Feedback’ and then describe ‘Other problems’ if the limited tick box choices don’t cover it, tying in your email to generate a ticket.
The website itself is very basic: a mere landing page with little to discover. It’s more than a lot of other free VPN services provide (many don’t have websites), but with such little help or information to be gained, you wonder why Thunder VPN even tried.
Do We Recommend Thunder VPN?
The Bottom Line
They say lightning never strikes the same place twice – and we certainly won’t be using Thunder VPN a second time.
While it isn’t the worst free VPN we’ve tested, it needs a lot of improvements before we can recommend it.
Poor speeds, a bad logging policy, and zero customer support are major problems. The only thing you may want to use Thunder VPN for is to stream BBC iPlayer, but these benefits come with considerable risks to your security and privacy.
If you’re considering using Thunder VPN, we recommend looking elsewhere.
Alternatives to Thunder VPN
Windscribe's free app is about as good as free services get. If you’re interested in ThunderVPN because you don’t want to crack open the wallet, we’ve got you: Windscribe free is worth a look. Read Windscribe review