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StrongVPN

February 2017 - Review, Packages & Deals

Our verdict

“Cheap zero logs VPN that's much better on mobile than desktop”

7.0

RECOMMENDED FOR

  • Privacy
  • Unblocking
  • Travel

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Zero logging policy
  • Decent speeds on OpenVPN TCP
  • Cheap on 12 month plan

Works with

  • HBO
  • Kodi
  • Torrenting
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Sling TV
  • Google-Gmail

Top StrongVPN packages for February 2017

1 Month

$10.00 per month
  • Servers in 20+ Countries
  • 2 Simultaneous Connections
  • Zero-log Policy
View Package

12 Months

$10.00 $5.83 per month save 42%
  • Servers in 20+ Countries
  • 2 Simultaneous Connections
  • Zero-log Policy
View Package

TOP10VPN RATING

Recommended For

  • Privacy

    Ensure you use OpenVPN TCP rather than other less secure protocols

  • Unblocking

    Range of options for beating the censors and unblocking sites

  • Travel

    Good mobile apps perfect for when you're on the move

StrongVPN Overview

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.

What we like
  • Zero logs policy
  • Excellent mobile apps
  • Free access to StrongDNS service
What we like less
  • Desktop app very hard to use
  • OpenVPN needed tweaking to work
  • Too much of the network is insecure PPTP VPN

SPEED & PERFORMANCE
7.0

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.

Feature StrongVPNExpressVPNNordVPN
Max Download Speed 39.81 (ITA)61.14 (UK)46.57 (US)
Max Upload Speed 28.65 (DE)36.64 (FRA)36.14 (US)
Ping time 4ms5ms5ms
Unlimited Bandwidth TrueTrueTrue
Average time to connect 60s8s13s
Reliability score 6.89.89.6
Tested and working with HBO, Kodi, Torrenting, BBC iPlayer, Sling TV, Google-GmailNetflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO, Gaming, Kodi, TorrentingNetflix, BBC iPlayer, Torrenting, Sling TV, Kodi

Speed breakdown

SERVER LOCATION Download Speed (Mbps) Upload Speed (Mbps)
Australia 12.75 4.97
Canada 31.36 18.24
South Korea 2.12 1.56
Italy 39.81 16.75
Germany 12.77 28.65
Mexico 3.13 6.39
UK 20.93 16.84
USA 31.12 16.68

How do we test these VPN speeds?

  • We continuously test the performance of all our featured VPN providers to ensure you have all the latest information you need to choose.
  • We use the Ookla Speedtest tool on our fibre-optic line in central London, via our own paid-for VPN accounts to ensure the fairest results.
  • Our normal download speed is around 40Mbps, upload 18Mbps and ping 3ms and results are from London to the most popular global locations.
  • Our tests are intended to give you an idea of the range of connection speeds. The closer the server and faster your connection, the faster your speeds.

LOCATIONS
7.1

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.

Feature StrongVPNExpressVPNNordVPN
Server Locations 4414557
Servers 6501,000+790
IP addresses 162,50020,000+2,000
Dynamic server switching FalseFalseTrue

Server locations

Most popular locations

  • Australia

  • Canada

    • Montreal
    • Vancouver
    • Toronto
  • Czech Republic

  • Germany

    • Frankfurt
    • Munich
    • Dusseldorf
  • Hong Kong

  • Israel

  • Italy

  • Japan

  • South Korea

  • Latvia

  • Luxembourg

  • Malaysia

  • Mexico

  • Netherlands

  • Norway

  • Romania

  • Singapore

  • Sweden

  • Switzerland

  • Turkey

  • UK

    • Nottingham
    • Manchester
    • Maidenhead
    • Livingston
    • London
    • Rugby
    • Canterbury
  • USA

    • New York
    • Las Vegas
    • Chicago
    • Miami
    • Phoenix
    • Los Angeles
    • Seattle
    • Buffalo
    • Atlanta
    • San Francisco
    • Washington, D.C.
    • Dallas
    • St Louis
See all supported locations…

CUSTOMER SUPPORT
6.7

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.

Feature StrongVPNExpressVPNNordVPN
Support Quality 6.8109.2
Response time 58mins12hrs 19mins46hrs
24/7 support TrueTrueTrue
Live chat FalseTrueTrue
Knowledge base TrueTrueTrue
Video tutorials FalseTrueTrue

EASE OF USE
6.5

What we like
  • Slick and streamlined mobile apps
  • iOS and Android apps are OpenVPN only
What we like less
  • Clunky, frustrating desktop app
  • Very slow connection times to OpenVPN UDP
  • Too easy to accidentally connect via PPTP

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.

Is StrongVPN compatible with my device?

Feature StrongVPNAvira PhantomExpressVPN
Windows TrueTrueTrue
Mac TrueTrueTrue
Linux Manual FalseTrue
iOS TrueTrueTrue
Android TrueTrueTrue
Windows Phone Manual FalseManual
Blackberry FalseFalseTrue
Router Manual FalseTrue
Kindle Manual FalseTrue
Games Consoles FalseFalseManual

PRIVACY
7.4

StrongVPN wins points for a robust zero-logs privacy policy that avoids the temporary logging even the basic details of your connection such as the time you connect/disconnet and the server selected. We love this and wish more VPN services took that approach. This allows us to overlook the company is headquartered in the US, a true enemy of the Internet, as they have no logs to hand over to the state snoopers.

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.

Feature StrongVPNExpressVPNNordVPN
Open VPN (Auto) FalseTrueFalse
Open VPN (UDP/TCP) TrueTrueTrue
PPTP TrueTrueTrue
SSTP TrueTrueTrue
L2TP/IPSec TrueTrueTrue
IKEv2 FalseFalseTrue
Proprietary Protocols FalseTrueFalse
Supports TCP Port 443 FalseTrueFalse
Supports Obfsproxy FalseFalseTrue
Supports Multihop FalseFalseTrue
Supports SSH Tunnel FalseFalseFalse
Supports SSL Tunnel FalseFalseTrue
Permits P2P TrueTrueTrue
Strongest Encryption AES-256AES-256AES-256
First party DNS servers FalseTrueTrue
DNS Leak Blocking FalseTrueTrue
Killswitch FalseTrueTrue
Accepts Bitcoin TrueTrueTrue
Accepts Paypal TrueTrueTrue
Anonymous Payment Method TrueTrueTrue
Activity Logging FalseFalseFalse
Connection Logging FalseTrueFalse
Tor over VPN server FalseFalseTrue

VALUE FOR MONEY
7.7

What we like
  • Comes with free access to StrongDNS service
  • Mobile apps are very good
  • Affordable price point for zero logs VPN
What we like less
  • Very clunky desktop app
  • Limited server network
  • Not working with Netflix

final score
7.0

“Cheap zero logs VPN that's much better on mobile than desktop”

See StrongVPN packages