(Image Credit: StrongVPN)
With over a decade of VPN experience, StrongVPN certainly should be able to deliver on multiple fronts. At first, it seems to do just that with great speeds, up to 12 device connections, WireGuard capability, and free cloud file sharing worth £9.99 per month thrown in for good measure.
Digging a little deeper we find a few things that could definitely be improved on.
But we would recommend it to you?
Let’s find out.
Short on Time? Here's what you need to know.
Industry-standard 256-bit encryption
Consistent speeds for streaming.
More expensive than contemporaries with less features
Access geo-blocked content, anywhere.
- Great speeds
- 256-bit encryption levels as standard
- Stream geo-blocked content like Netflix and Amazon Prime with ease
- Free SugarSync account worth £9.99
- WireGuard capability
We don't like
- Poor customer service
- Slightly more expensive than it’s counterparts for the most expensive plan
- No outside audits to confirm no-logging policy
- Does not block BBC iPlayer
- Limited features
What is a VPN?
When you use a VPN or Virtual Private Network, all of your traffic is sent through an encrypted tunnel via a private VPN server which can’t then be accessed, allowing you the freedom to browse the internet in relative peace.
From helping you to stay secure and anonymous on unsecured public WIFI by stopping any hackers from accessing your data to preventing advertisers knowing everything about you before you’ve even visited their site.
No longer limited to hiding your IP address and accessing geo-blocked content VPNs have now become a staple in personal and corporate security.
Price and plans – How much does StrongVPN cost?
StrongVPN does not have a free plan and keeps it simple by offering a monthly plan for £9.99 and a yearly plan which works out at £2.91 per month. Great if you know what you want from the start but limits flexibility for those looking for alternative options.
Both prices are relatively in-line with other similar VPNs but are more expensive than the likes of Ivacy, which we recently reviewed, which comes in at £1.82 per month over 2 years and has a lot more features available.
Compared to the industry leaders like NordVPN and ExpressVPN which can be up to £6.63 per month, it does look like good value.
This is especially true when you consider both plans also come with 250GB of SugarSync Secure Storage, which is a cloud-based file-sharing software. We haven’t reviewed SugarSync as a standalone product but we were more than happy with the service when we tried it.
Both plans also come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Disappointingly, the only available payment methods are via Creditcard, PayPal, or Alipay. It’s definitely not a deal-breaker but we’re seeing more and more VPNs offer Bitcoin or similar alternatives in order to increase anonymity so it would be good to see StrongVPN implement this in the future.
Privacy - Can you trust StrongVPN?
StrongVPN is based in Los Angeles, California, and is a subsidiary of the larger J2 Global Group, also headquartered in LA.
As we mentioned in our ProtonVPN and NordVPN reviews, it’s always good to see a VPN based either outside of the 14-Eyes surveillance or in countries with strict privacy laws as is the case with ProtonVPN.
Being based in California isn’t the end of the world but those of us who want our private data to remain so should carefully consider what the ramifications might be in choosing a provider that is based in a country with data-retention laws like the US.
Does StrongVPN Keep Logs?
Again, why not make paying via Bitcoin an option?
Still, it’s short, sweet, and to the point.
Like in our Ivacy review, it would be nice to see some form of an audit by an outside body to confirm if these claims are true so we’ll have to take their word for it. More and more VPNs are providing these audits to really validate themselves as privacy-focused services and with StrongVPN we just don’t get that. Again, something to think about when making your decision.
You don’t get many features with StrongVPN. The Windows app is limited to a kill-switch, OpenVPN/WireGuard options, and separate DNS protection.
You do get industry-standard 256-bit encryption levels as to be expected and the option to connect up to 12 devices which is more than you get with most other VPNs but for anything else you need to look elsewhere.
No split-tunneling options, no double VPN, no Tor compatibility. For the price StrongVPN is asking you to shell out, while not as much as others, it doesn’t have anywhere near the features of say Ivacy which is actually cheaper.
On a side note, StrongVPN does offer dedicated IPs but they didn’t make our recent list of top 3 providers.
Servers and Locations
Currently, StrongVPN offer 950 servers in 35 countries and 59 cities. Not a huge list by any stretch, especially considering CyberGhost’s expansive 6000+ servers. It should be serviceable enough for most users but for users in Africa and oft-forgotten locations by VPN providers need to look elsewhere.
This is where StrongVPN shines with WireGuard capabilities available on their Windows app on top of L2TP, SSTP, OpenVPN, IPSec, and IKEv2 protocols. For those unfamiliar with WireGuard, it’s essentially a faster, simpler and safer version of OpenVPN which was already an extremely secure protocol to begin with.
Check out the below video for an in-depth explanation.
Several big names in the VPN industry, notably ExpressVPN and Surfshark, have yet to implement WireGuard technology so this is a big feather in StrongVPNs cap for more advanced users to consider.
VPN performance is always difficult to cover as it can widely vary even from one post/zip code to the next.
For a benchmark, we used 2 speed testing services; speedtest.net and testmy.net with averages leveling out at around 78mps download speed and 20mps for uploads (not great we know).
European results were typically sound, varying little in terms of speed drops when connecting to major countries like Germany, France, and The Netherlands. Further afield, the differential became more inconsistent with mixed results from the likes of Latvia and Serbia with some dropping our speeds by up to 85%.
StrongVPN has a good mix of US servers to choose from and most of them provided more than enough speed for streaming and gaming so for any of you looking to use it for Netflix, you’ll be absolutely fine.
It’s also worth pointing out that these results of ours could differ significantly depending on where in the world you are.
Overall, StrongVPN delivers decent results. Much better than your average VPN which is something to be said but still not as consistent as we’d like. The capability is definitely there so be sure to test, test, test if you do purchase a subscription and if you’re not happy with your results, ask for your money back.
Hands on with StrongVPN
StrongVPN offers apps across all platforms and guides on how to set each of them up directly from the payment page were handy but also to be expected.
Payment and installation were relatively easy for both iOS and Windows apps using the generated password StrongVPN supply via email.
The actual Windows app looks and feels cheap. Most other VPNs offer simplistic solutions because you never really need to do much after you join your chosen server. StrongVPNs app feels like it’s taken from the early 2000s.
On the home screen, all you get is your new IP address, the time elapsed, visible location, and a connect/disconnect button. This may be more than enough for some users but after enjoying the on-screen metrics such as upload and download speed that ProtonVPN provides, StrongVPNs app feels stark in comparison. But, again, opinions on this may differ greatly.
After that, you can access the settings in the top right-hand corner where you can engage the kill-switch, change languages, protocol, and toggle things like auto-start and reconnect.
You don’t have the option to set any profiles for future sessions and annoyingly, you have to disconnect from one location to then access another rather than just switching between them.
It’s very minimalist and lacking in available features but it does what’s it’s meant to do at the very least.
Support is available either via a 24/7 live chat, submitting a ticket, or their support centre. StrongVPNs support centre is great with set up and router guides covering a wide range of options and devices as well as FAQs.
The live chat and ticket submission response times were average with replies being okay as well. Definitely not as knowledgeable as ExpressVPN or NordVPN.
We recently also decided to test the live chat feature and also inquire about any outside audits to which the response was ‘we have our own in-house developers’ which didn’t answer the question at all.
Unblocking Netflix and accessing US content is a must-have for a lot of users and StrongVPN delivers on this front and consistently. We were easily able to access US content from each of the 15 available servers. This also worked for Hulu, Disney+ and HBO.
Where StrongVPN did fall down was with iPlayer which a number of other publications have also reported errors with. BBC iPlayer can be a difficult one for many VPNs but the industry leaders do manage to circumnavigate the UK blocks.
StrongVPN has no limits on torrenting but does not feature any dedicated P2P servers.
StrongVPN has issues, the questionable location, lack of any outside audits to confirm their logging policy and technical issues means it would be difficult to recommend on this basis alone. However, for some users the availability of WireGuard and SugarSync add-ons do provide value for money but this niche is likely to be minimal at best.