- Servers in 20+ Countries
- 2 Simultaneous Connections
- Zero-log Policy
“Cheap zero logs VPN that's much better on mobile than desktop”
Ensure you use OpenVPN TCP rather than other less secure protocols
Range of options for beating the censors and unblocking sites
Good mobile apps perfect for when you're on the move
StrongVPN is a popular US-based service whose parent company has been providing web hosting and network services since 1994. Desktop users should approach StrongVPN with their eyes open. The desktop client is clunky, hard to use and in dire need of a revamp. If you’re prepared to tweak some settings and put up with its quirks, you get respectable performance at a cheap price and zero logs.
Mobile users get a much better deals as the iOS and Android apps are very good and avoid the mistakes of the desktop. Most importantly they are OpenVPN only rather than the PPTP-heavy options available to desktop users.
The server network is fairly small but we recommend checking the specific locations below as it may well suit your needs. The UK and US have the most options.
Device compatibility is pretty good with a comprehensive suite of set-up guides for various routers, operating systems and Kindles, although many require manual configuration.
Less positive is a network that leans on the insecure and outdated PPTP protocol and a desktop app that makes it all too easy to connect in that way. Mobile users have less to worry about however as the Android and iOS apps are OpenVPN only and thus more secure. We also felt the lack of a killswitch or any kind of DNS leak blocking.
|Open VPN (Auto)|
|Open VPN (UDP/TCP)|
|Supports TCP Port 443|
|Supports SSH Tunnel|
|Supports SSL Tunnel|
|First party DNS servers|
|DNS Leak Blocking|
|Anonymous payment method|
|Tor over VPN server|
At first glance, StrongVPN’s speed test results seem reasonable but they come with a massive caveat. We always run our speed tests over the industry-standard OpenVPN protocol. However, until we got help from customer support, very few servers would connect via OpenVPN, defaulting to weaker protocols. After a ton of frustration, we were finally able to connect but the connection times were absurdly long – up to 2.5mins on the OpenVPN UDP protocol.
To rub salt in the wound, several of our usual testing locations were not available at all (France, Brazil) or so slow, our speed test struggled to initialise (Mexico), so we have subbed in some replacements. UK and US speeds were acceptable if ordinary. Italy was a bright spot for download speed and Germany for uploads. South Korea was surprisingly all-round awful while Germany was also subpar for downloads. In short, it’s can be painful to get anywhere decent speeds without sacrificing security.
|Max download speed||39.81 (ITA)||61.14 (UK)||46.57 (US)|
|Max upload speed||28.65 (DE)||36.64 (FRA)||36.14 (US)|
|Average time to connect||60s||8s||13s|
|Tested and working with||HBO, BBC iPlayer, Google-Gmail, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Gaming, Torrenting, Facebook, Twitter, Google-Gmail, Kodi||Netflix, Facebook, BBC iPlayer, Torrenting, Twitter, Google-Gmail, Youtube, Kodi|
|SERVER LOCATION||Download Speed (Mbps)||Upload Speed (Mbps)|
StrongVPN has a fairly small network compared to competitors at just 44 locations in 22 countries. The advertised 650 servers sounds a lot more impressive that it really is as two-thirds are PPTP-only servers. This legacy protocol really should only be used as a last resort as it’s known to be insecure.
StrongVPN offers OpenVPN on around 220 servers with some countries and cities going begging. OpenVPN comes in two flavours TCP and UDP. In our most recent tests, initialising a connection to a UDP server was unbearably slow (2.5mins) and unfortunately many OpenVPN servers are UDP-only. In the US for example, only Dallas and LA have TCP available.
Taking the network as a whole, there is quite good city-level choice in the US and UK. Europe and North America are best represented. Asia has a few options but if you need South America or Africa then look elsewhere.
StrongVPN is far from user-friendly on desktop. Parts of the app are so difficult to use that it’s genuinely baffling. We tore our hair out in frustration trying to connect via our preferred OpenVPN protocol before customer support advised to increase the timeout limit from 15s to 60s due to glacially slow connection times.
Until then we could not connect to OpenVPN UDP at all. To make that worse is a design flaw that allows selection of any protocol, regardless of availability. This means you can get locked into a minutes-long failed connection attempts. This could be a real problem for the unwary as it’s easy to select OpenVPN only to be switched onto the insecure PPTP with no notification.
If you ignore certain options (ie the horrific Change Location feature) and learn from trial and error, it is just possible to get around the app’s many quirks and get closer to a more normal user experience. We will leave it to you to decide whether that’s worth the effort. There’s also a ton of advanced options but these tend to configuration fine-tuning rather than useful tools and will likely be ignored by most users.
The mobile apps on the other hand are really quite good! Simple and effective with a big button in the middle of the screen. Connection settings are straightforward: pick a country and which flavour of OpenVPN you want and connect in an instant. StrongVPN should do themselves a favour and bin the desktop app and look to their mobile product for the way forward.
Customer support for StrongVPN is barely adequate. Livechat is only available on the payment page and the “sales agent” who eventually responds after a few minutes’ wait will not be able to provide technical help. All they do is take the details of your problem and forward it on to a tech who will then email you. In fairness, the tech team responded quickly and did resolve our issue by their second response 12 hours later. However the whole process felt very robotic and failed to create a very favourable impression.
The knowledge base is neither comprehensive, well-written nor particularly useful for troubleshooting. For basic instructions, it does the job but given the sheer awkwardness of using the StrongVPN app, it should be overhauled.