Thunder VPN isn’t the worse free VPN we’ve tested, but it has a lot of improvement to undertake before we can recommend it.
Thunder VPN does have a fun design and streams BBC iPlayer content, but these benefits come with considerable risks in security and privacy.
1. Consistently Slow Speeds
Not exactly lightning fast, Thunder VPN underwhelmed in our speed tests.
Particularly when it came to downloads, it struggled to get over a meagre 2Mbps. Only Germany performed such a feat, earning a respectable average of 28Mbps, an inexplicable leap from the rest.
Uploads were much better: 51Mbps for UK (our base of operations) and decent averages for other tested servers – 36Mbps for Germany, 51Mbps for France and 27Mbps for Canada.
But ping times were poor – 19ms for UK. With a good VPN you’d be looking at a digit closer to 10ms or below when connecting from your base, especially if you were a gamer keen for a smooth playing experience. A VPN like Hotspot Shield performs at 8ms locally.
To read about our speed testing methodologies, please read How We Review VPNs.
2. Only 10 Server Locations
Thunder VPN presents 10 server locations but some of these are illusionary. For example, The Netherlands, as far as we can tell, isn’t actually available as a server. When connecting to that server we only ever got a French IP.
It is the same with the Japan server, which connects you to China. This means Thunder VPN is a terrible choice for VPN users in Asia, seeing as there are no available servers that exist in a privacy-friendly nation close-by.
There are also no city-level options, with the exception of the US that has options for East and West.
3. Only Available on Android
4. iPlayer Access but No Netflix
Thunder VPN surprisingly worked with BBC iPlayer, which is good news for fans of the streaming service. There was little buffer time required (four or five seconds) but the content streamed at good quality.
The same, however, cannot be said for Netflix, as it failed to bypass its proxy detection.
The Thunder VPN app also 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.
5. Dated Protocol & Poor Security
There is very little information about the 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 is an archaic and sub-standard protection compared to something like OpenVPN. We contacted Thunder VPN to get more details but haven’t heard back.
Thunder VPN lacks a VPN kill switch but, surprisingly, the VPN passed our leak tests, which is one positive among many negatives.
- SSL VPN
6. Probably Won't Beat Censors
Thunder VPN is unlikely to work in highly censored countries, especially in countries like China and UAE. The VPN lacks obfuscation features required to crack web censors.
7. Too Much Logging & Unclear Jurisdiction
But, it’s a short 272 words with little to no information concerning data retention, deletion policies or metadata.
Thunder VPN claims a “strict no-logging policy” on the 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. However, only a few lines down from these promises and it reads: “When you use our app we may collect the following information: IP address, Internet service provider, OS version, language of the device, app identifier, app version, independent deice [sic] identifier, ad identifier, devide [sic] manufacturer and model, email address, the time zone and the network state (WiFi and so on), times when connected to our service, choice of server location, and the total amount of data transferred per day, etc.”
This directly contradicts its prior assurance, which is quite frankly dishonest. As such, Thunder VPN DOES log and 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.
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.
The address on the Google Play store lists a US location in Arkansas (but the zip code is actually based in California…).
However, as our free VPN investigation revealed, the company behind Thunder VPN, Signal Lab, only uses the listed US location for payment purpose and states that the VPN app was created by “independent developers from Hong Kong.” Rather confusingly, though, there are no registered companies in Hong Kong called Signal Lab.
This lack of transparency doesn’t inspire confidence.
8. App is Simple to Use
The Thunder VPN app has a functional design. The main page features an adolescent Thor who suddenly jumps into action when connecting to a server.
While this is very far from the god of VPNs, this shows a degree of care in design and branding that elevates it above some of the more lazily produced free VPN providers.
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.
One interesting feature of Thunder VPN is a list of apps that are good for use with the VPN (210 in total), something we don’t come across too often. However, considering BitTorrent didn’t work – when it’s included on the list – we have to question just how many of these apps will actually work with Thunder VPN.
You can download the service via the Google Play Store. If you’re not put off by multiple typos and grammatical errors when reading the product description, you can go ahead and install.
9. Support Limited to FAQs
Thunder VPN has an FAQ for customer support, which is welcome but hardly exhaustive.
If you don’t find an answer in here, 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.
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.
10. The Bottom Line - Don't Use
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Works with BBC iPlayer
- Decent app design
- Poor privacy & logging policies
- No Netflix or torrenting
- Opaque jurisdiction
- No customer support
- Basic website & unprofessional email address
They say lightning never strikes the same place twice – and we certainly won’t be using Thunder VPN a second time.
Poor speed, a bad logging policy and zero customer support are major problems.
The only thing you may want to use it for is to stream BBC iPlayer, but overall Thunder VPN isn’t a VPN you should use.