Nonetheless, the name of the company wasn’t an arbitrary choice as it focuses on providing strong, high-quality VPN connections. To achieve this it has several security features including top notch encryption, a kill switch, several VPN protocols and much more, all packed and nicely arranged in a user-friendly client.
Nowadays it’s almost a general rule for companies to make their VPN software compatible with multiple protocols, but it’s still somewhat rare to find one that allows users to choose which of them they would like to use for individual locations. StrongVPN, however, does allow this choice since it displays the list of protocols in the client’s settings page alongside some other features.
A Simple Client Filled With Features
StrongVPN’s client is straightforward, minimal and very easy to use as the main screen immediately displays the user’s real location and a connect button to virtually change it instantly; this is a perfect example of a ‘connect & go’ client then, since nothing needs to be configured first. Still, those who like some liberty of control and an editable settings page will certainly be pleased with what is available with StrongVPN. Before establishing a connection users can choose which protocol they prefer – out of the options of OpenVPN, IKEv2, SSTP, L2TP and PPTP – with the software even providing a brief explanation about what each of them are most suitable for.
But the settings don’t just stop there, including some more trivial options – such as forcing the program to start alongside the launch of the computer – to other more important tools that have direct impact on the VPN experience, like the enabling of the kill switch and auto reconnect tools, for instance.
This is a simple complementary service developed by the same company. It can be bought separately and since it doesn’t hide IP addresses or provide any sort of encryption the plans for this service are much cheaper. This is most suitable for people that just want to overcome a geographical block of a streaming website, for instance, as connection speeds will not be affected because traffic is not routed through a VPN server. This means that StrongDNS is unable to unblock websites and services blocked by governments or ISPs, and therefore a VPN is always preferable.
After testing StrongVPN’s server network the results are mixed. The scale of the network itself is rather large with 650+ servers in 20 countries, enough to cover the entire world with the usual exception of the African continent. Most servers are located in multiple cities across the U.S., Canada and the UK, which is certainly great for those seeking to gain access to streaming sites in those countries. In Europe, particularly welcome locations such as Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Netherlands are included, countries that are beneficial for their friendly, open internet laws making them perfect places for torrenting.
Despite some performance shifts here and there, the connection speeds are pretty good. Tests were run from Europe and the servers that were farther away naturally had the weakest results, but it was only in the Republic of Korea where StrongVPN particularly struggled. Considering the geographical distance and the overall quality of the internet in the Asian country the results were understandable, and since no other connections suffered issues it would be unfair to point the blame at StrongVPN. The choice of protocol and type of IP address (shared or dynamic) that each server provides also play a heavy role in the end result when it comes to speed, and these are all important indicators to consult on StrongVPN’s website prior to any connection.
Sadly, when it comes to the actual VPN experience, every server tested showed severe DNS leaks that constantly revealed our genuine physical location. This was disappointing to see, even more when considering the company’s name and how it intends to be the strongest VPN provider. IP addresses were always in keeping with the desired location, but this can be a deciding factor that may well mean many privacy enthusiasts will avoid using StrongVPN.
While StrongVPN might not have lived up to its name when it comes to its VPN connections, this is a different story for privacy protection. First of all, there are four types of encryption available, with AES-256-CBC being the strongest and most popular one. All major protocols are available, too, from the unsafe PPTP to the slower but safer IKEv2, though the standard protocol OpenVPN is also available on TCP or UDP. This third option also presents users with different ports to choose from and it’s also possible to enable the scramble feature to obfuscate traffic and bypass network sensors that can detect VPNs.
Moreover, StrongVPN is a tier 1 VPN provider, which means it owns and operates all of its servers, so when it says it is not recording or storing “web traffic data, including websites visited and files downloaded” then it can be trusted. It does, however, log connection timestamps and the duration of a VPN session, along with the amount of bandwidth used.
OS, Device Support
StrongVPN has great device support that keeps up with the newest OS releases and still pays attention to less popular options. Windows versions 10 through to XP and Microsoft Surface/Windows RT are all supported, while Apple fans can install StrongVPN on macOS and iOS mobile devices. In addition, Android phones and tablets aren’t forgotten, nor is Windows Phone and other operating systems like Chromium OS/Google Chrome OS, Ubuntu Linux, Kodi and much more. The maximum number of connections under the same account is five but users can extend this number by configuring the VPN on DD-WRT, Tomato, Sabai and other routers.
It should be noted that while more popular platforms like Windows, Android, macOS, Linux and iOS come with their own respective native clients or apps, the rest usually require manual setup. StrongVPN provides many extensive guides for different setups, that are even divided based on the desired safety protocol.
Instead of the usual three-plan scheme that most VPN providers use, StrongVPN’s pricing model is a bit different. There are only two options and on the one hand this couldn’t be any more straightforward, but on the other hand the lack of an intermediary plan restricts potential customers that might not want either a month-to-month or annual subscription. The monthly option costs $10, which is rather pricey even if it does come without any restrictions on the service.
Therefore the only other option is billed at $69.99 every year, which represents a much happier cost of $5.83 per month. This is a more competitive price, not only because it represents a 42% saving but also because it is in line with the charges from many competitors. But yet again, it’s too bad that customers have to decide whether to opt for purchasing an overpriced monthly program or become stuck with a subscription they may not need or want for a whole year. A semiannual or even quarterly plan would be the perfect way to fill this gap, though StrongVPN at least offers a coupon that makes both plans 20% cheaper.
All purchases include a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is frustratingly the only way of trialing the StrongVPN service. Customers will still have to pay in advance but an entire month of risk-free testing should be enough to figure out if this is the VPN service that suits their needs. Payment methods include the major credit cards and alternative methods such as PayPal, Bitcoin and Alipay.
Even the best VPN company can lose all its credibility if the customer support it provides is poor. StrongVPN is aware of this and doesn’t ease up when it comes to providing assistance, ensuring its support is available 24/7 for both long-time customers and anyone else that might just be seeking information. There are options to send a ticket via their platform, as well as a live chat to answer any immediate questions, from billing to technical support. In our tests both the live chat and the ticketing system are well refined as responses were quick and helpful in both instances.
Apart from this more direct service, StrongVPN’s official website also provides an FAQ page that answers all of the most general questions. The company also has a good social media presence with active accounts on Facebook and Twitter that can also be used to ask for help and are updated with all the relevant news about service improvements and the VPN world in general, all of which can also be found on StrongVPN’s blog.
StrongVPN surely knows how to appeal to everyone and provide a good VPN experience through its stellar desktop clients and apps for mobile devices. The experience that the company has gained over the years has taught them that providing extensive security features and letting people alter their settings to customize each connection with different protocols is the best choice to ensure the software suits every kind of user. However, it’s disappointing that the same provider that cares so much about VPN protocols, encryption levels and other important security features suffers so badly from DNS leaks. And this only made worse when considering the good speeds that it offers as it’s a pity that many users may not even experience them since they will be immediately put off by the provider’s unsecure connections.
The absence of a free trial is noticeable, too, but that’s not nearly as unfortunate as lacking an intermediary plan between its overpriced monthly option and another more reasonably priced plan that requires a contract for an entire year. The offer of a coupon to reduce the cost of either of its plans rectifies this problem and helps to make StrongVPN more worthy of attention.
- Simple, easy to use client and apps
- Worldwide VPN network
- Good speeds
- Protocol choice and other editable features
- Good customer service
- DNS leaks
- Only monthly and annual plans