StrongVPN doesn’t beat around the bush. It’s framing device for marketing uses terms like “military grade” to paint a very particular picture. Strong in name and strong in practice, that’s what they want us to think. I guess we’ll see.
StrongVPN has been around for a very long time. It’s one of the oldest VPNs I know of, being founded in 1994. That’s before regular joes even knew what a VPN was or had any reason to use one. It’s impressive that they’ve been around for so long. The company is based in the United States, which can sometimes be an issue from a privacy perspective, but as you’ll see StrongVPN have dealt with this.
As usual, I’ll be evaluating this VPN against our nine main criteria. We look at the features, privacy, security and more. By the end of the review, you’ll have a very good idea of whether this VPN is for you.
|Features||Encryption, Location Spoofing|
|Servers||650+ servers in 25 countries|
|Logging Policy||Zero logging policy|
|Security||2048 Bit Encryption, PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, OpenVPN, IKEv2, IPSec|
|Device Support||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android + OpenVPN|
|How Many Devices At Once?||Five|
Streaming is an important issue for many people looking to get their own VPN. So we make sure to check whether each VPN can unblock Hulu and US Netflix. Some people are also keen to keep their Kodi streaming private, so that’s in the mix as well.
|Netflix||YES – 480p|
|Hulu||YES – 480p|
|Kodi||YES – 480p|
While StrongVPN successfully unblocked both US Netflix and Hulu, the streaming performance was pretty bad. The same goes for Kodi. If you wanted HD streaming then you’re better off looking at something like TorGuard coupled with a dedicated IP. Just be aware that this option costs quite a bit more. Still, we found HD streaming to be rock solid with TorGuard.
Every VPN has good and bad points. These are the most important pros and cons of StrongVPN.
Who Should Use This VPN?
- If you mainly care about having a basic VPN and don’t mind middling speeds, StrongVPN is OK.
Who Should Not Use This VPN?
- Anyone who wants fast VPN performance or decent streaming of unblocked content.
If StrongVPN still sounds like something you’d consider, then read on for the full review.
StrongVPN is off to an, er, strong start by having a smooth and uneventful installation. We also didn’t have to jump through activation hoops or other roadblocks to simply getting the VPN up and running.
It’s not even necessary to log in if you want to download the client. You can just get it from the site without going to the trouble of putting in a password. The client itself is also tiny, weighing in at a mere 2.6MB. Installation is typical, it’s just a standard wizard.
There’s not much if anything to fiddle with here. Just click on through and soon StrongVPN is installed on your computer.
StrongVPN has all the basic features that a VPN should have, but nothing that draws attention. Our Score: 7/10
The feature list of StrongVPN is one we’ve seen many times before. It does the basic job of hiding your IP and location. Your packets are encrypted and thanks to strong encryption levels it’s not likely anyone will ever see what you don’t want them to.
There’s no ad-blocking or malware filter that I could see, but there is a kill switch option and the standard DNS leak protection we expect all VPNs to have.
StrongVPN is priced around the middle of the pack. It’s not bad value though, just not astounding. Our Score:7/10
It might be a silly thing, but I like the fact that StrongVPN charges $10.00 a month instead of $9.99 or some other fractional number makes me happy. I’m always a little irritated with this marketing trick to make prices seem lower than they are.
That being said, ten bucks a month is about average for most VPNs. Also typical is the discount you get for paying longer subscriptions upfront. Even the annual package is average. Neither the most or least expensive we’ve seen.
Ease of Use
StrongVPN is pretty easy to use, but it’s brought down by an ugly client and clunky server-switching system. Our Score: 6/10
I got a distinct sense of deja vu when loading up the StrongVPN client. Here was yet another VPN provider that seems to have forgotten about their desktop software. Everyone just seems to care about apps these days. Making them slick and attractive. That’s fine, but give a little polish for us PC-using folks too sometime! It seems to be the older more established VPN companies that are in serious need of fresh paint. VPNs like Ivacy and TunnelBear show how pretty and intuitive desktop VPN clients can be. So really there’s no excuse.
StrongVPN feels a little unintuitive overall, although it’s not rocket science to figure things out. When it comes to user-unfriendliness there are worse offenders. Isn’t that right, TorGuard?
One pertinent example of the ham-handedness going on here is the process you have to go through when picking a different server.
When you hit the “change location” button you are confronted with that a wizard interface that you have to go through every time you want to change servers.
What’s really irritating about this is how short the actual list of server locations is. Which begs the question of why it has to be presented in such a convoluted way.
The other button worth noting is “advanced” which will open up this dialogue box.
It gives you a quick overview of what’s going on in your account, what system you’re running no and some basic stats on your VPN usage.
Clicking on options gives us the meatiest part of the client. This is where you can switch on features like the kill switch or do diagnostic troubleshooting.
Don’t be worried about the “log” tab. This log is local-only and you can use it to figure out what’s going on with your connection if there is anything wrong.
The port list and license tabs are self-explanatory. Here you can manage the network ports for the VPN and read the license terms in detail, which no one really wants to.
The StrongVPN Website
The StrongVPN website is clean and attractive. Navigating it is a breeze although the content could be a little better. Our Score: 8/10
The StrongVPN website is pretty much up there with most decent VPN sites. Everything is clearly demarcated and I had no trouble finding what I was looking for. If you need to head back here for information or setup instructions you could do a lot worse.
StrongVPN supports only the mainstream platforms natively and the rest through OpenVPN. Our Score: 7/10
StrongVPN does not have a very wide range of native VPN clients on offer. It’s basically just the four usual suspects. You’ll find clients for Windows and MacOS. There are also apps for Android and iOS. So far, so normal. Other devices are supported through the OpenVPN protocol. You should know however that this limits which servers you can use since OpenVPN is only available on some of them.
In the past reviewers have ripped into StrongVPN for having a low concurrent connection limit. So I was expecting to be disappointed. Instead, they now have a fairly standard five-connection limit. Everything is now perfectly average on this front.
A low number of servers, locations, and countries coupled with PPTP on most servers is bad news in total. Our Score: 3/10
The situation with StrongVPN’s server locations is a little complicated. The company advertises that they have 650 servers in total. However, not all of these run on the most secure protocols. Just over 200 servers use the secure and trusted OpenVPN protocol, the rest are still on PPTP. A protocol that has been thoroughly compromised and should never be used by anyone who wants privacy and security.
No matter which way you slice it, StrongVPN’s network is pretty small. There are only 44 locations and those are split up among 22 countries. Which makes it very likely that your country doesn’t have a server close to it. If all you care about is accessing a US server then it probably doesn’t matter, but if you mainly care about privacy it does. Why? Simply because choosing a server close to you minimizes the performance impact of the VPN. If you’re lucky you might not notice any slowdown at all.
StrongVPN tanked hard on our speed test with a 70% drop from our 10 Mbps baseline. Our Score: 3/10
A VPN isn’t much use if it slows down your connection so much that you can barely use it. Which is why one of the most important criteria for a VPN is how well it performs. In order to get a test result that’s relevant to the majority of people, we use a standard 10 Mbps connection. Completely unthrottled, it scores very close to the promised theoretical speed.
Usually, we’d let the client auto-select the fastest server, but StrongVPN’s client doesn’t seem to have this option. In my part of the world it doesn’t even have anything close by, so really the only logical option is to simply go with the US speed test. So with that in mind, I choose the closest US server and let her rip.
Ouch, ouch, ouch. That’s a 70% drop in bandwidth. Not a good result at all.
Security & Privacy
The reliance on PPTP is a little worrying, but otherwise, StrongVPN has pretty decent security measures.Our Score: 6/10
One major security and privacy concern when it comes to StrongVPN is, as mentioned above, is that most of its servers rely on an outdated VPN protocol. What’s more, it’s not always obvious what sort of server you’ve connected to. Which means some users might connect to an insecure server by accident.
This is only really an issue when using desktop clients. On mobile devices, you can only use secure clients it seems. Still, if you go with StrongVPN you need to be wary.
Being based in the US should be a point of concern since American laws such as the Patriot act makes it easy for law enforcement to get information out of companies.
Luckily, StrongVPN has set things up in such a way that they won’t have anything to give. The company has a strict no logging policy. When I say strict I really mean it. They don’t even keep logs of anonymous information such as login times or bandwidth usage.
The privacy documentation is a little dense, but they do try to pick out the most important details. Personal, y I like clear policy documents over legal jargon any day.
StrongVPN now has live chat in addition to other forms of support. The guides could be more comprehensive, but overall it does a great job. Our Score: 8/10
The gold standard for VPN customer support is live chat or an international helpline, So that you can get help immediately if something goes wrong with your VPN. Companies that offer this sort of service tend to charge higher prices to cover staffing costs. For your ten bucks StrongVPN now also offers live chat, which was a compliant I’ve seen from older reviews. Clearly StrongVPN took this to heart. I tested the live chat myself and got an answer within seconds, so hats off.
While there is some information on the website to help users figure out various issues and concepts, it falls far short of the comprehensive documentation we’ve seen from other providers.
It’s difficult to think of any really compelling reasons to use StrongVPN. While the service has definitely improved to address some of the many criticism other reviewers have had in the past, it’s still just not as good as many other VPN services we’ve tested ourselves. Even PureVPN, which I didn’t really like, was actually better than StrongVPN in my opinion.
It’s also priced pretty close to truly elite VPN services like TorGuard, which I’ve mentioned before. A fact that would make you really daft to choose StrongVPN over it.
Overall Score: 6/10
While I can’t really recommend StrongVPN to the average VPN user, there are still many other VPN services out there. If this one is not right for you, then be sure to look at our VPN guide, which will help you figure out what’s most important in a VPN before you put down your money.