Thunder VPN Review 2021 - Useless for Anything But Browsing

Author Image Kristin Hassel
Kristin Hassel | Cybersecurity Researcher
Updated on 18th January 2021

Don’t waste your time on Thunder VPN it simply isn’t safe. Aside from the lack of industry-standard protocols, it’s frightening the sheer amount of data that this VPN collects for claiming it’s no-logs. Worse yet, over 600,000 people have downloaded the service on Google Play alone despite it’s questionable logs policy.

Plus, Thunder VPN can’t even unblock Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+, the only video service I could access was YouTube. While the service was easy to install and navigate, I couldn’t find any other real pros to using Thunder VPN.

Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings:

  • Download speeds are too slow for streaming. Download speeds dropped by more than 80% for most of my tests, with all servers being too slow to stream content in HD. See full speed tests here.
  • Uses older encryption protocol and lacks basic security features. Thunder VPN uses SSL encryption, which isn’t as secure as industry-standard OpenVPN or even older protocols like IPSec. Get more information on security here.
  • Poor connections and ads between server switching. Basically anytime you navigate from one place to another, you get an ad. That includes server switches. Plus, I couldn’t even access some of the servers because the connections were so poor.
  • Doesn’t unblock most streaming services including Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. Not a VPN for people who love streaming. See more here.

Thunder VPN Features: Updated in March 2021

Number of countries with servers 8
Number of servers 17
Does VPN keep logs? Yes
Does VPN include a kill switch? No
Number of devices per license 1

Can Thunder VPN Unblock Netflix? — No

Thunder VPN couldn’t bypass geoblocks for Netflix, Hulu, or Disney. I was able to access YouTube. I’m sure the speeds are part of the issue and the lack of strong security is another. In many cases I couldn’t even get the network to connect.

A screenshot of ThunderVPN connected to a US server and a failed attempt to unblock Netflix using the VPN.

ThunderVPN failed to unblock popular streaming services like Netflix.

If streaming and affordability are big on your list of must-haves while using a VPN, check out our best free VPNs for streaming to get the speeds and security features to help you bypass pesky blocks.

Speeds — Frustratingly Slow

Thunder VPN’s speeds are consistent but not in a good way. Each server I tested had consistently poor download speeds, but the upload speeds were oddly better the further I got from my true location. This VPN is too slow to stream in even SD uninterrupted, that means you can expect disconnects, lag, and freezing while viewing YouTube videos, and forget about gaming altogether.

Screenshot of a speed test performed on Thunder VPN.

My speeds dropped significantly once I connected to ThunderVPN.

As you can see my base speeds are excellent for both download and upload, and the ping-back was fast. Ping is basically a techie term for testing latency, it’s the amount of time it takes for data to travel from your device to any server and back. The longer it takes the more chance for lag, buffering, and connection failures.

Streaming content uninterrupted, even in SD, requires at least 3 Mbps download speed. The following information includes Netflix’s recommended minimum download speeds for streaming content: SD: 3 Mbps, HD: 5 Mbps, and  4K: 25 Mbps. This means even if you could manage to connect to a streaming service, you wouldn’t even be able to stream buffer-free in SD.

As you can see from my test results, the drop for download speed was ridiculous, over 95% for each server I tested. While some upload speeds increased from one server to the next, nothing came close to my original speeds. That’s not to say a drop in speeds isn’t to be expected when using a VPN, just that this much of a drop is unacceptable.

Security — Older Security Protocols

There’s no kill switch, firewall, ad blocker, or even industry-standard security protocol on Thunder VPN.

A kill switch is a common feature for most premium VPNs, it automatically severs your connection from the internet if the VPN server fails. While ThunderVPN does offer split-tunneling, which allows you to choose certain safe apps to run outside the VPN, the kill switch would be a nice additional security feature. Just a heads up Thunder VPN calls it’s split-tunneling feature Apps Using VPN, you can find it on the interfaces Main Menu.

SSL encryption protocol is the only protocol offered by Thunder VPN. SSL protocol isn’t bad, it’s just outdated when it comes to VPN use. IPSec is even preferred over SSL because it’s more efficient than SSL which is commonly used for browsers. Since Thunder VPN does offer extensions for Chrome, I can see them offering SSL but it will need to upgrade before it is good enough to even compete with most free VPNs.

I wasn’t surprised by the lack of an ad-blocker or firewall, due to the sheer amount of ads ThunderVPN uses in its free version. Firewalls and ad blockers are meant to prevent pop-ups and other ads, malware, hackers, and potentially harmful software from gaining access to your devices. That wouldn’t be useful to a VPN that makes its living off of ads.

I was expecting disappointment going into the DNS/IP leak test but I was pleasantly surprised.  The test didn’t detect any leaks! The server and DNS addresses both showed the Paris server I was connected to. That means my ISP or anyone else paying attention won’t be able to figure out my true location or track any of my activity while connected to Thunder VPN.

A screenshot of the IP/DNS leak test performed on Thunder VPN.

Despite the lacking security options, Thunder VPN kept my location private.

Privacy — Vague Privacy Policy

Every VPN collects some form of unidentifiable data from users, usually to help them make improvements to the services they offer. VPNs with true no-logs policies will never collect your ISP, IP address, location, or any other personally identifiable information. Unfortunately, Thunder VPN’s privacy policy doesn’t exactly reflect its no-logs statement.

A solid privacy policy that includes a true no-logs statement is crucial when choosing a VPN. Without it, your ISP, third-parties, and even the VPN itself can potentially gain access to your traffic history, usernames, passwords, and other personal information. What’s worse is they often sell it to the highest bidder.

Here are just a few different types of data Thunder VPN collects, though it insists the information is never of a personally identifiable nature.

  • IP address
  • Email
  • Billing address
  • Connection times
  • ISP
  • User network state
  • Amount of data used

Your ISP, billing address, and IP address are pretty personal bits of information. Each one could allow them to track you in one way or another, to discover your exact or relevant location.

Torrenting — Not Safe for Torrenting

Thunder VPN’s encryption protocol is secure for browsers but not the best protocol for an app, plus there’s no kill switch. It discourages torrenting and has a list of unacceptable uses, that means if you accidentally download something you shouldn’t you could end up in trouble.

Two main areas of the terms of service (directly quoted below) apply to torrenting specifically:

  • Uploading, downloading, posting, reproducing, or distribution of any content protected by copyright, or any other proprietary right, without first having obtained permission of the owner of the proprietary content. (Terms of Service, Usage Policy, ThunderVPN, %%currrentyear%%)
  • Violations of this Usage Policy may result in termination of your account, without any refund of amounts previously paid for the Service. Additionally, you may be held responsible for any and all damages incurred by Thunder VPN , including any amounts charged by any outside entity due to said violation(s), including without limitation attorney’s fees and costs. (Terms of Service, Usage Policy, ThunderVPN, %%currrentyear%%)

My first issue with this is that doesn’t leave any room for error. It is possible to unknowingly download copyrighted content, especially for individuals that aren’t internet savy. They see a FREE sign and assume it’s free, having no idea that it’s copyrighted or trademarked.

The second issue is how do they know what you’re downloading? If ThunderVPN truly is a no-logs VPN, they shouldn’t know where you are online or what you’re doing. If they can track you for downloading something you shouldn’t, they don’t have a no-logs policy.

For these reasons I can’t recommend Thunder VPN for torrenting.

Does Thunder VPN Work in China? — No

Although Thunder VPN has servers in Hong Kong, I was unable to connect to any of them.

Ease of Use

5.3

The interface is clean and I have to admit the baby Thor is amusing, but it doesn’t change the fact that Thunder VPN is extremely shy on important security features. Still, the service is easy to navigate.

To connect to a server you can click on Auto Select. You can also wait for the VPN to connect for the first time, as it will automatically connect you to the fastest server available. To choose a different server, click on the flag in the upper right hand corner and choose a different location from the server list.

A screenshot of Thunder VPN connected and its available servers.

The server selection process for ThunderVPN is intuitive.

The servers on the list all have signal bars to the right, as you can see Germany and Hong Kong have poor signals. While I was able to connect to the German server, I couldn’t connect to Hong Kong on the VIP or free plans. The signal icons are useful for detecting whether or not a server is worth trying to connect to, I found less than three bars and I was disconnected right away or couldn’t connect at all.

Thunder VPN allows unlimited server switching on both free and VIP, but the server selection is extremely limited. There are only 17 servers total, 8 of which are accessible on the free plan. Be prepared, you’ll have to watch an ad every time you switch servers on the free version.

A screenshot of the ads shown on Thunder VPN when switching, connecting, or disconnecting from servers.

Every time you connect, switch, or disconnect a server you get bombarded with ads or ratings windows.

I mentioned the split-tunneling feature earlier, so I’ll go into a bit more detail there. Once you click on Apps Using VPN, it displays a list of all of the apps on your Android device. By default, all off your apps are protected by the VPN. If you want to run only specific apps through the VPN, you can uncheck them all at once and then select the apps you want. You can also just deselect a few that you don’t want to run through the VPN. Overall the process is very straightforward.

A screenshot of the split tunneling feature for Thunder VPN.

The split-tunneling feature is very straightforward.

From the Settings page, you can turn on Auto Connect to start Thunder VPN up the moment you turn on your device.  One nice feature is being able to turn off general notifications.

Simultaneous Device Connections

Since you don’t need to register the free version, you can technically use it on any Android device you have. The paid version of Thunder VPN can only be registered on one device.

Device Compatibility – Strictly for Android

Thunder VPN’s app is an Android only app, the only way to run it on Mac, Windows, or any other operating system is using an Android emulator. If you want an VPN that works with more than one operating system, check out our best VPNs for multiple devices.

Set Up & Installation – Quick & Simple

Installing the app on an Android device is fast and simple, just download Thunder VPN on your mobile device and follow the instructions. In total it takes about 3 minutes to set up and depending on which server you choose, around one minute or less to connect.

Compare Thunder VPN with the top alternative VPNs

Pricing

1.3
Annually
$4.99 /month
Weekly
$5.99 /month
Monthly
$9.99 /month

Thunder VPN offers an unlimited free VPN, as well as a paid weekly, monthly, and yearly VIP plan. VIP gets you access to all 17 servers in 8 countries, and removes all ads.

The prices are a bit expensive for the weekly plan, if you really want to pay for a service there are plenty of premium VPN’s for less than $9.99/mo. That’s the same price as a weekly subscription to Thunder VPN. Not only that, premium VPNs are going to offer you more security features and streaming opportunities than a free VPN.

Still want to try Thunder VPN? Test out it’s VIP service for 3-days using its free trial.

Reliability & Support

3.3

Thunder VPN offers limited customer support, the app has a FAQ section but it wasn’t very useful. The answers are extremely short and don’t give any real, actionable advice. Since I had problems connecting to the Hong Kong server I checked the FAQ for the VPN failing to connect, it simply asked me to continue to try to connect to the server or connect to another server.

The answers are very basic, and none of the FAQ’s explains how to contact the company if you have issues with the service. If you click on More questions, you’re led to a form that allows you to email Thunder VPN’s customer support center.

Thunder VPN doesn’t have a live chat or contact number, which is disappointing because I still haven’t heard back from them, and wanted to know if the yearly plan allowed for multiple simultaneous connections, or if it was one device only regardless of your plan.  That was over 48 hours ago.

The Bottom Line

The free version is only good for browsing and the paid version isn’t worth the price.

The free version would work for basic browsing but due to the lack of security features, you may put yourself at risk accessing social media sites, bank accounts, or shopping online. While the split-tunneling feature is nice, the lack of other standard security features means you could be putting your data up for grabs.

If the low-level security isn’t enough to deter you, keep in mind that you won’t be able to unblock any of your favorite streaming services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, or Hulu. Even if you could, the speeds are way too slow to stream buffer-free. Due to the questionable logs policy, I don’t recommend this VPN for torrenting either.  That’s about 70% of the features people use VPNs for, and Thunder VPN falls short on all of them.

If you want a free VPN that can keep you safe from hackers and malware, plus get you access to your favorite streaming services, check out our best free VPN’s.

FAQs

What are some alternatives to Thunder VPN?

There are plenty of acceptable free alternatives to Thunder VPN, as well as some premium options that offer risk-free money-back guarantees and include tons of advanced security features. One of my favorites is NordVPN in terms of a premium provider, it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. It also unblocks Netflix, works well for torrenting, and has unique security features like NordLynx (its hybrid WireGuard protocol). You can find out more about them in our vendor review.

As far as free VPNs go, check out our best free VPNs to see which free VPNs we found to be safe, effective, and even work for streaming or torrenting. Just remember, all free VPNs do have drawbacks like limited bandwidth, speed throttling, or less server availability.

Why does Thunder VPN show so many ads?

Free versions of VPNs need to be paid for somehow, after all maintenance, security, and overall upgrades don’t come cheap. In order to pay for some of their free services Thunder VPN uses advertising. It’s also a way to get users to upgrade sooner, as premium versions of Thunder VPN are ad-free. 

Where is Thunder VPN based?

Thunder VPN is created by SigLabs out of Arkansas, in the US. That makes it well within 5, 9, and 14-eyes surveillance territory, a faction that works together to collect and share online user data. Read our handy guide to learn more about which countries make up the 5, 9, and 14-Eyes Alliance.

Some countries even go so far as to request user information. That’s why security features, no-logs, and kill switches are important factors to look for when choosing a VPN. 

Money Back Guarantee (Days) : 0
Mobile app :
Number of devices per license : 1

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