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StrongVPN Review (2022) - Surprisingly Better than Others
The beginnings of StrongVPN go back to 1994 when their small company, named Smart Technologies LLC, located in South Lake Tahoe, California, started selling PCs. Later, they expanded their business and started offering dial-up internet services, dedicated servers, and colocation services. Fast forward a couple of years, in 2005, they launched their VPN service and in 2019 StrongVPN was acquired by J2 Global.
StrongVPN has more than 950 servers across over 30 countries and 59 cities and 59,500 IPs available and works with the major protocols including WireGuard, OpenVPN, L2TP, SSTP, IPSec, and IKEv2. It uses AES 256-bit encryption and offers a strict no-logs policy. Furthermore, it also offers protection and security on public WiFi networks and it comes with a kill switch. With that being said, StrongVPN is a safe and secure VPN and it can thus be used while you’re in China. Plus, it allows torrenting and P2P activity as long as it is copyright-free and in compliance with your country’s laws.
StrongVPN offers speeds that are fast for streaming but average for gaming. It successfully unblocks several platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock, but doesn’t unblock BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video. If that’s a deal-breaker for you, you can choose a VPN that best suits your needs.
It is compatible with Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices, routers, Fire TV, Kodi, Linux, Ubuntu, Tor, and more. You can also use it for gaming on PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox. Aside from that, it is extremely easy to set it up and install the apps on your devices. Their customer support is very prompt and polite, so if you have any questions you can contact them through 24/7 live chat, email, and the ticketing system.
There are annual and monthly subscription plans that start off with a cheap price for the first year or month of use and after, the prices become a bit higher. However, there is no free trial available. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee, but only with the annual plan. StrongVPN also offers a SmartDNS service known as StrongDNS with one subscription. What’s more, the subscriptions come with a free 250GB SugarSync cloud storage which is a major plus for anyone who would like to use it. There are many payment methods available including all major credit cards, PayPal, Alipay, and Bitcoin.
Fast enough for streaming over long distances. I had great speeds for streaming while connected to the European servers with almost no buffering but I was also satisfied with the speeds over longer distances where I experienced minimal lag. Check out my speed test results for more information.
Streaming — Unblocks Many Platforms Including Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+
I had a great experience streaming with StrongVPN on all servers that I connected to. First, I tried three US servers (Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York), and I didn’t run into any problems unblocking Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Peacock, and HBO Max on all of them. Taking into consideration that these servers are far away from my real location, the picture quality wasn’t the clearest at first but it got clearer as I continued streaming.
Streaming Disney+ on the Seattle, US server
Then, I tested three UK servers (Canterbury, Manchester, and London) and the streaming was enjoyable, without any noticeable buffering. Additionally, I tried other servers from Europe, Australia, and Asia including Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Serbia, Melbourne, and Singapore. On these servers, I also managed to successfully stream content from all of the above-mentioned platforms except HBO Max because HBO Max can only be used in the US. The Europe servers are closer to my real location, so the streaming quality and speed were a little better than the other farther server locations I tried.
Unblocked: Netflix UK/US, Disney+, Hulu, Peacock, HBO Max, and More
StrongVPN unblocks many platforms. The ones that I tested and successfully unblocked were Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Peacock, and HBO Max. On StrongVPN’s website, there are other streaming platforms mentioned that can be used with this VPN such as ABC, Channel 4, Crunchyroll, Fire TV, IPTV, ITV, Kodi, SkyGo, Spotify, TVPlayer, and YouTube.
Screenshot from StrongVPN’s website
Blocked By: Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer
StrongVPN can’t unblock Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer. I tried streaming Amazon Prime Video on the New York server but a message popped up telling me that I should disable my VPN connection in order to access their content. So, unfortunately, StrongVPN couldn’t bypass Amazon Prime Video’s strict geo-restrictions.
Amazon Prime Video notified me to disable my VPN so I can stream their content
I asked their customer support if I can use StrongVPN with BBC iPlayer and they told me that BBC is trying to block VPN providers, so they recommended I use the StrongDNS service to access BBC content. Their StrongDNS comes free with both subscription plans for StrongVPN. However, if you want to use only their StrongDNS, without subscribing to their VPN service, you can make a separate StrongDNS account and try it for free for 7 days.
StrongVPN offers great speeds for streaming overall but on long-distance servers, I experienced a bit of delay when loading websites. However, it wasn’t anything major. The longest I waited for a website to load was about 5 to 7 seconds.
Below you can see some of the speed test results I got with StrongVPN on different servers starting from the nearest to the farthest server. In the first picture you can see the speed I had before connecting to StrongVPN, then the speed while connected to StrongVPN’s best available server, and one of the European servers - Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Ookla speed test results from my current location and two nearer servers, Belgrade and Amsterdam
In the second picture, I included the speeds I got with StrongVPN while connected to some of the farther servers I tested, such as Toronto Chicago, Singapore, and Melbourne.
Ookla speed test results from servers that are much farther from my current location
As it can be seen from my speed test results, the ping time gradually increased as I connected to farther and farther servers but there wasn’t a significant difference or loss in the download and upload speeds when using StrongVPN.
I also tested StrongVPN on the Seattle, US server with three protocols, WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2, and the differences in speed when using each of them were minimal.
Speed test results using StrongVPN on the Seattle server with different protocols
To conclude, I was very satisfied with StrongVPN’s speeds and I would definitely use it again. The speed test results exceeded my expectations especially for streaming on both near and long-distance locations.
Are StrongVPN’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? Yes.
StrongVPN’s speeds are fast enough for gaming but you may face some delay due to the high ping if you’re connected to a long-distance server. I played Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on Steam while connected to the “Best Available” server and I didn’t experience any noticeable delays, even though the ping was 97ms. That was most likely due to the fact that the connection was stable.
I am not a professional nor regular gamer, so the speed results I got while gaming with StrongVPN probably won’t satisfy professional gamers or people who like gaming on a regular basis. With that being said, if you want a VPN with speeds faster than these, there are other great VPNs for gaming.
Playing CS: Global Offensive on Steam with StrongVPN’s “Best Available” location
Server Network — Average-Sized in Comparison to Other VPNs
StrongVPN has over 950 servers across more than 30 countries and 59 cities which is pretty decent. What’s more important, it has reliable connections on its servers and offers 59,500 IP addresses which means that in a given moment at least 59,500 customers can simultaneously use StrongVPN’s services. What’s more, if the IPs are shared, then over 59,500 users can simultaneously use StrongVPN. However, if more users are assigned the same shared IP the speeds can be slowed down. With that being said, no matter how many users they have in total, most likely there will always be an IP address available for you, taking into consideration the vast number of IPs.
On StrongVPN’s website, there is extensive information about the services they provide including all of the countries and cities where their servers are located, so you’ll know if it is a good choice for you even before you purchase a plan.
There are also multi-city servers available in a couple of countries including the US, the UK, Canada, France, and Australia. The advantage of multi-city servers is that they can choose from a larger number of servers available in one city. So if one or more of the servers from a city you’ve selected is not working, you can try the servers from another city of the same country. In the US, for example, there are servers available in 15 cities. So, if you want to unblock US streaming content, there are plenty of servers to choose from and if you can choose from a larger number of servers, you’ll probably have better speeds for streaming, gaming, torrenting, and internet surfing. If you don’t want to manually choose a server location, StrongVPN has a “Best Available” location feature that will choose the server that’s the nearest to you and has the least traffic at the moment.
StrongVPN operates its own servers which makes it even more secure because there is no third party involved. Furthermore, it also offers a SmartDNS service called StrongDNS that you can use to unblock geo-restricted content by masking your real location. Note that a SmartDNS differs from a VPN service in that the SmartDNS doesn’t have all of the security features that a VPN provides. So, a SmartDNS won’t encrypt your data but it also won’t affect your speed as opposed to the VPN. Also, from the information I found in the FAQs on StrongVPN’s website, it is not recommended to use StrongVPN and StrongDNS at the same time on the same device and network because you might lose some functionality when using certain sites.
StrongVPN is as secure as it gets. It uses military-grade AES 256-bit encryption combined with perfect forward secrecy which makes it fall into the category of the most secure VPNs. You can choose from a number of protocols including WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, SSTP, L2TP, and IPSec.
WireGuard is a new protocol known as one of the fastest on the market that won’t compromise your speeds. It is actually faster than the already well-established OpenVPN protocol which makes it a top option. WireGuard is available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
OpenVPN is very well-known and considered to be one of the most secure VPN protocols. StrongVPN offers TCP and UDP connections on several ports making it compatible with different routers and supports the Scramble feature on both TCP and UDP connections that hides all your OpenVPN traffic. Most of the time, the TCP connection is a bit slower as opposed to the faster UDP connection. OpenVPN is available for Windows, macOS, and Android.
IKEv2 is the protocol that is recommended the most by StrongVPN, especially for mobile devices. This protocol is fast and secure and lets you automatically reconnect to StrongVPN when switching from mobile data to a WiFi network or vice versa. IKEv2 is available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
SSTP is almost as secure as the OpenVPN protocol and definitely more secure than IPSec or L2TP. SSTP encrypts the traffic between StrongVPN and your chosen StrongVPN server. It is available only for Windows.
IPSec and L2TP are legacy protocols still supported by StrongVPN. On their own, they’re not the most secure but when paired together their security significantly increases. IPSec is available for macOS and iOS while L2TP is available for macOS and Windows.
StrongVPN makes a recommendation on their website about which protocol is best to use with certain devices. This is really helpful for someone who doesn’t really know much about protocols so they can make a choice that would fit their device the most.
StrongVPN’s recommendation on their website
For additional security StrongVPN offers a kill switch feature that automatically disconnects your internet if the VPN connection unexpectedly cuts short. This feature prevents your IP address or other data from being leaked when that happens, so it’s a great security feature to have. The kill switch feature is only available on StrongVPN’s Windows and macOS apps.
StrongVPN also offers split tunneling on the Android app which basically means that you can choose which apps on your device you would like to use with StrongVPN and which ones you would like to use without it.
StrongVPN operates its own DNS servers and offers a SmartDNS service called StrongDNS that can be used for accessing geo-restricted content considering that with it you can only change your real location but without all the security features offered by the VPN.
Last but not least, I ran leak tests and there were no DNS, WebRTC, and IP leaks on both of the servers I tested.
IPLeak test results while connected to the Chicago server
IPLeak test results while connected to the Toronto, Canada server
Privacy — Based Under US Jurisdiction but Has a Strict Zero-Logs Policy
On the plus side, they make sure to mention that they don’t sell their customers’ personal information to third parties that they collaborate with such as ReliableHosting, ZenDesk, SendGrid, and others.
Furthermore, there is a short clause about data retention where they don’t disclose exactly how long they retain your personal data but only state that they may keep it for as long as needed, and in the case of some legal issues the data retention period may have the same duration as the legal processes involved.
Torrenting — Allowed on All Servers but not Explicitly
StrongVPN allows torrenting as well as P2P file-sharing on all servers. However, note that torrenting of copyrighted materials is illegal, while torrenting of copyright-free material is legal. Also, in some countries torrenting, in general, is banned, so you should check the laws and regulations of your country before engaging in this activity.
StrongVPN doesn’t mention anywhere on their website that torrenting is allowed which is very much understandable. Torrenting is a touchy subject for VPNs, and its purpose can be misunderstood and misused by many thus leading to legal issues.
Even though StrongVPN doesn’t mention torrenting on the website, in their Terms of Service they do mention that the misuse of copyright-protected materials will lead to termination of one’s account. Furthermore, they have a policy dedicated to this issue alone that can be found by clicking on the Policies link located at the bottom of their homepage.
Does StrongVPN Work in China? Yes
Yes, StrongVPN works in China. It bypasses China’s Great Firewall, but note that the use of VPNs that aren’t approved by the government is illegal in China. However, so far no tourists have been punished, banned, or chased after for using a VPN while visiting China. Nevertheless, StrongVPN supports the OpenVPN obfuscation feature called Scramble that you can use for additional privacy and security. This feature masks the fact that you’re using a VPN and it makes it harder for highly censored countries like China to detect it. Considering that StrongVPN’s website and apps are blocked in China, remember to get a subscription and install the apps compatible with your devices before you travel there.
Simultaneous Device Connections — Connect Up To 12 at Once
StrongVPN allows 12 simultaneous device connections with one account which can be pretty much considered unlimited for most users. With that being said, StrongVPN offers security and safety on all your home devices even if you use them at the same time.
Device Compatibility — Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and More
StrongVPN has native apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, FireTV, and ChromeOS. It is also compatible with but doesn’t have native apps for Linux, Ubuntu, Kodi, Amazon Kindle, HP webOS, Nokia Maemo, Nokia Symbian, Synology NAS, and routers.
However, on StrongVPN’s website, you can find step-by-step setup guides for each of them. These setup guides can be accessed by clicking on the VPN Apps link located at the bottom of the website’s homepage.
There is an option to buy a preloaded StrongVPN router if you don’t want to deal with the lengthy manual setup guides for different models. On the website, you can choose one of the preloaded StrongVPN routers that you like the most and have it shipped at home. After that, only a few steps are required to connect your new router and you can secure all non-native devices including Apple TVs, Android TVs, Smart TVs, Roku, Boxee, and gaming consoles such as PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox, as mentioned on their website’s FAQs.
Furthermore, this VPN offers a browser extension for Chrome only, not for other browsers such as Safari, Firefox, Edge, Opera, or others. And, if you want additional security, StrongVPN is one of the VPNs that work with Tor.
Set-Up & Installation — Very Easy and User-Friendly
I set up StrongVPN on my Windows PC and my Android smartphone. It was very easy to install the apps on both devices. It took just a couple of clicks and I was all set in a minute.
There are also step-by-step connection guides with screenshots available on StrongVPN’s website for each native and non-native device it supports, so even if you’re not too tech-savvy you’ll easily get round to it.
The apps were also very straightforward and easy to use. You can download StrongVPN’s Windows app from their website, and their Android app from Play Store. Both the Windows and the Android app have a similar interface where you’re greeted with a world map.
Right off the bat, you can see your real location and two buttons, one with the “Best Available” location feature and the other to connect to the server. The “Best Available” option will select the server that’s nearest to you but if you want to access other servers, instead of clicking the “Connect” button, you can just click on the “Best Available” button and it will take you to all the other servers available that you can choose from.
Once you choose a server and click “Connect”, you’ll be able to see your newly assigned IP address, the time elapsed, and the new visible location. Whenever you want to disconnect, you can just click on the red “Disconnect” button.
StrongVPN’s Windows app interface and Android app interface
StrongVPN offers monthly and annual subscription plans only. Both plans come with a free 250GB SugarSync cloud storage which makes the prices very affordable especially if you need and would use that cloud storage. The plans start off with a cheaper price that increases once the first month or year passes. The payment can be realized through all major credit cards, PayPal, Alipay, and if you want to pay anonymously you can do that by using Bitcoin.
Unfortunately, there is no free trial available with StrongVPN. However, they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee but only if you choose the annual plan. To be eligible for their money-back guarantee, you have to contact them in the first 30 days of making your purchase. They also note in their ToS that if you buy a subscription via the App Store or iTunes, your refund depends on Apple’s refund policies. Considering that you’ll have to initially pay for the annual plan, StrongVPN doesn’t have any restrictions and limitations as to what features you can use during the money-back guarantee period. On their website it says that refunds take 24 to 48 hours to process, so don’t worry if you don't get your money back immediately after requesting the refund. If for some reason you still don’t have your money back after one or two days, StrongVPN has reliable 24/7 live chat support that can assist you at any time of the day.
I contacted StrongVPN through the live chat support and I got a very prompt and friendly response. I asked them whether I can use StrongVPN to watch BBC iPlayer content and they not only answered my question but also gave me additional information related to my question. So, I was extremely satisfied with the answer I received. Their live chat support is available 24/7 and I really recommend it if you have some questions to ask them. You’ll get a response in just a matter of seconds from real people that can give you information from three departments, technical, billing, and sales.
StrongVPN offers a very helpful and friendly live chat support
Aside from live chat support, you can also contact StrongVPN via the online ticketing system. You can just submit your question and wait for an email response. They also have extensive information about their services on their website in general and in the FAQs that look like mini blog posts.
StrongVPN is great for streaming without buffering but if you want to stream BBC iPlayer or Amazon Prime Video content you’d be better off with some other VPN because StrongVPN doesn’t unblock these streaming platforms. Nevertheless, it unblocks Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Peacock, and many others without any problems.
It is very affordable taking into consideration that both the monthly and the annual subscription come with free StrongDNS and 250GB SugarSync cloud storage. It would have been great if they offered a free trial so that more people could try it before deciding on purchasing a subscription. This way it would’ve been more accessible to people who don’t like spending money on VPNs they haven’t tested first or are uncertain about. However, they do offer a free 7-day trial for their StrongDNS.
The server network is average-sized in comparison to other VPNs but the connections are reliable. The speeds are above-average to fast, depending on the proximity of the server you choose. It is safe and secure and offers 24/7 live chat support with technical and friendly professionals.
StrongVPN’s apps are very easy to set up and their interface is straightforward and uncluttered. Their website is full of information about their services and of course, there are step-by-step connection guides for all compatible devices, be it native or non-native.