StrongVPN Review Overview
- Works with streaming
- Fast server speeds
- P2P friendly
- Based in US
- 12 month plan - $5.83 per month ($69.99 total cost)
- 1 month plan - $10.00 per month ($10.00 total cost)
StrongVPN isn’t new to the game: they’ve been around since 2005. This makes them older than most of its competition, which means they’ve had a lot of time to iron out any kinks and make their overall service stronger (pun intended) – like implementing the WireGuard VPN protocol!
No major spoilers, though – we’ll let you read through our StrongVPN review and decide for yourself whether the service is worth your time and money.
How StrongVPN Compares to the Competition
Take a look at How We Rate VPN Providers!
Located in One of the Worst Jurisdictions
It can’t be helped – the US is a terrible location for VPN companies.
This is because it’s one of the nations behind the original UKUSA Agreement, which later became known as the 5 Eyes Agreement and has since been expanded to include 14 official partners and several unofficial allies.
If you know anything about the Edward Snowden leaks of 2013 (or you read any of our other reviews), you’ll know we’re talking about the international coalition of government intelligence agencies spying on their citizens and sharing our personal data with each other behind our backs.
That said, StrongVPN is based in California. This might not seem important at first, but California actually has one of the best state-level privacy legislations in the nation.
It’s not good enough to warrant an automatic exception to our rule against recommending VPN providers based in 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, or 14 Eyes jurisdictions, but it’s still worth pointing out.
Strict No-Logs Policy
In the next section:
Most of the highlights shared above are also available on this page, where StrongVPN makes a more accessible claim to be a no-logs VPN. We found a lot of VPN providers lie about this, mind you…
We’re not even concerned about the caveat that “we do not provide information that we do have unless we are legally required to” because they don’t have anything that can realistically be used against you.
Military-Grade Encryption and the Best VPN Protocols
Another area we wish StrongVPN would trim down is its list of VPN protocols. They offer quite a lot of these, which can be bewildering for the inexperienced and lead to users choosing some of the worst possible protocols.
That said, we do see the best of the best on the list too: OpenVPN and IKEv2.
All of their apps are compatible with these 2 protocols, so there’s really no excuse for using L2TP or IPSec on your Mac or iOS (if you need to use IPSec because your tech is really that old, use IKEv2/IPSec and start saving up for an upgrade).
StrongVPN also offers (and recommends) the WireGuard protocol!
Confused? Check out our Beginner’s Guide to VPN Protocols.
There’s nothing on the StrongVPN website to tell us what level of encryption they’re using, though. We tried using their support/knowledgebase tab to find out, but that was unsuccessful. So we decided to give their live chat support a test run.
When we first opened the chat, we were queued in 5th position. After about a minute, we received an auto-response apologizing for the delay and offering the option of submitting a ticket instead. We decided to wait and within 5 minutes, we had our answer: 256-bit AES encryption.
This is the industry standard because it’s military-grade. And until quantum computing becomes a reality in the distant future, it’s nigh-impossible to hack. We recommend taking a look at our Beginner’s Guide to VPN Encryption if you want to learn more.
Kill Switch, Split Tunneling, DNS Leak Protection
There are a couple more security features we expect to see in a VPN: the kill switch and DNS leak protection. We also like to see a split tunneling feature, though this is more of a “nice to have”.
If you’re an advanced VPN user and you need a split tunneling feature, then we’ve got some bad news: StrongVPN only offers it for Android users:
The good news is StrongVPN does have a kill switch and it seems to be working perfectly fine.
However, something we’re not a fan of is the fact you need to manually activate it in the app settings. This is a very important safety feature that really ought to be on by default.
StrongVPN also offers DNS leak protection, but it’s… complicated. Way too complicated, in our opinion. You need to follow a whole list of instructions to change your app and computer settings just to enable it, when DNS leak protection should be on by default.
In fact, it seems StrongVPN is geared toward getting you to use its sister service, StrongDNS.
The thing is, DNS leak protection shouldn’t be this complicated to set up. It should actually be automatically enabled with the option to turn it off with one click.
TOR Capability in Lieu of a Double VPN Feature
Another favorite nice-to-have feature is the Double VPN, which allows you to double your encryption level and further obfuscate your location by using a second VPN server via the first.
Unfortunately, StrongVPN does not have this feature:
However, if you do need something like a Double VPN feature, you can use the TOR-over-VPN method.
All you need to do is download The Onion Router (TOR), a free proxy browser modeled on the Firefox browser and use DuckDuckGo as its default search engine.
Firefox is a more privacy-friendly alternative to Google Chrome (and TOR even more so), while DuckDuckGo is one of the most privacy-friendly search engines available.
TOR works by routing your internet connection via 3 remote servers. The encryption levels are a lot lower than with a VPN and we wouldn’t recommend using TOR without first connecting to a VPN server.
It can also slow down your internet speed a fair bit (even without adding a VPN to the mix). But nevertheless, it’s a great option to have if you’re willing to sacrifice speed for privacy.
A Surprisingly Small Server Network
One thing we’re not too thrilled with is how small StrongVPN’s server network is.
Considering it’s been on the market since 2005, we expected to see similar numbers to that of ExpressVPN or NordVPN, which have 3,000+ and 5396 servers respectively. But StrongVPN only offers 950+ servers with 59,500 unique IP addresses, spread over 59 locations in 35 countries.
This isn’t too small, but it’s definitely not anywhere near the number of servers and server locations offered by the best overall VPNs.
Server size and the number of locations have a huge impact on a VPN’s speed. This is partially due to the distance between your device and the VPN server affecting your connection speed, but also because the more users sharing a server, the more likely network congestion becomes.
There’s no end to the number of variables that can affect speed testing results, so we always try to mimic a standardized test. To do so, we use the same devices, server locations, internet connection, VPN settings (as far as possible) and general times to run the tests.
However, you should still be aware our experience with StrongVPN’s server speeds won’t necessarily be the same as yours. Consider this a ballpark experience – you might get slightly better results, but you’re just as likely to get slightly worse results too.
Overall, we were extremely impressed with StrongVPN’s server speeds.
Device Compatibility and Connections
StrongVPN doesn’t disappoint with their device compatibility, at least:
- Amazon FireTV
You also get an amazing 12 simultaneous connections per account. This is double the industry standard and one of StrongVPN’s strongest points (pun fully intended). You’re able to cover your whole household at the same time without using StrongVPN on your router.
Subscription Plans and Pricing
There are only 2 subscription options for StrongVPN:
Honestly, the monthly subscription seems rather overpriced. However, you’ll get a very decent savings by opting for the 1-year plan.
The provider doesn’t offer a free trial (though sometimes they run promotions offering one), but all their plans are covered by their 30-day money-back guarantee. However, there’s a big caveat hidden in their Terms of Service…
You can only request a refund on your first ever payment. Recurring payments (your second period and onwards) will not be refunded, so if you start having issues with StrongVPN as time goes by, you’ll need to suck it up for the remainder of your subscription term.
(Of course, that said, you can always cancel your subscription early and get a new VPN – you just won’t get a refund).
There aren’t many payment methods available either: credit card, PayPal, and Alipay are your only options.
Unblock Websites for Unlimited Streaming
Back on the good news spectrum, StrongVPN works very well at unblocking streaming services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer. We tested the usual Netflix regions without any issues whatsoever and had the same experience watching BBC iPlayer on a UK server from abroad.
This is one of the advantages of keeping a low profile we mentioned earlier. Because StrongVPN’s servers aren’t as saturated with users like many of their competitors are, they’re better able to get around the Netflix proxy detection/anti-VPN software, which other streaming platforms use as well.
StrongVPN might not be one of the best Netflix VPNs overall, but it definitely delivers on this particular promise.
Speaking of Netflix and their proxy detection, it led to a massive regrowth in the popularity of torrenting.
Now, we don’t endorse illegal torrenting (downloading and sharing pirated copyright material). But P2P connections have legal applications as well and sometimes the line between the two is very blurry.
StrongVPN doesn’t explicitly permit or forbid torrenting, so we gave their live chat another test. Once again, we were listed as 5th in their queue (we’re starting to wonder if this is a default setting they implemented), but we got an answer in less than a minute this time:
Lifen also confirmed P2P is allowed on all of their servers (there aren’t any specialized ones). See our full list of the best VPNs for torrenting.
Usability and Support
Fortunately, StrongVPN’s Windows app was fairly easy to use.
You can easily switch between protocols, though the only one you should use is OpenVPN.
Overall, our experience with the app itself was great.
We also can’t fault StrongVPN’s support. As mentioned before, if we couldn’t find something in the FAQ section, we never had to wait longer than a few minutes for an answer via live chat. The agents were friendly, human, and knew what they were talking about, which is all you need.
How to Cancel StrongVPN and Get Your Money Back
All-in-all, StrongVPN is a good VPN. However, if you’d like to cancel your StrongVPN subscription and get your money back, here’s what to do:
- Log in to your StrongVPN Customer Area
- Hover your mouse over “VPN Accounts”
- Click “Cancel Request Form”
- Select the package you want to cancel
- Follow the instructions (varies depending on the app)
- Make sure cancellation request is set to “Now” before submitting
That’s it! The refund request will be automatically sent at the same time if you fall under the 30-day money-back guarantee. Then you can use our VPN comparison tool to find yourself a new VPN.