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As with most premium VPNs, StrongVPN rewards subscribers that are willing to commit for a longer period of time. Unusually compared to other providers, however, StrongVPN only has two plans to choose from. This sets StrongVPN apart from its competitors and leaves potential subscribers with fewer options, which is a shame.
The good news is that both of its plans provide the same level of service, which means that there is no confusion in terms of the features you get – no matter which plan you decide on.
The monthly plan costs $10, which in our opinion is a touch on the pricey side. Having said that, it is a similar price to what you will see with many other VPNs – so it isn't particularly reproachful. The yearly plan is much better, costing the equivalent of just $5.83 per month. This is a good price that certainly won't break the bank. However, it still does not put it in the cheap VPN category; which we reserve for VPNs that cost $3 or less per month.
It is worth noting that StrongVPN throws in a smart DNS feature for free with all its plans, which is a nice addition for customers in need of unblocking a lot of streaming content.
Finally, subscribers are given a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means that you can test the water – and then change your mind if you prefer. Payment can be made via debit card, credit card, American Express, PayPal, and Alipay. However, no crypto-currencies are currently accepted.
- Apps for all platforms
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Zero logs
- 950+ VPN servers in 39 countries
- kill-switch (Windows only)
- Smart DNS service
- 12 Simultaneous devices
- Unblock Netflix US and Hulu
- Router support for many models
- Strong OpenVPN encryption
- Fast connection speeds
- WireGuard protocol
As always, we tested this VPN to see how it would fare for streaming. We tested its US servers and were happy to find that it unblocks different Netflix regions including US and Hulu. StrongVPN also worked fine with ABC and NBC as long as we connected to a bigger network such as New York. This makes it a great service for anybody wanting to access US content.
Next we connected to a UK server to test BBC iPlayer, as this always provides a great benchmark. Unfortunately, we found that StrongVPN does not unblock this British stream with the VPN. However, we next tested the Smart DNS and were happy to find that this did allow me to watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK. We could also access Channel 4 using this smart DNS feature.
This is good news, and means that users will be able to access any streams they desire either by using the full VPN or the free Smart DNS service it throws in!
Speed and Performance
At ProPrivacy.com we use a scientific, server based speed test system to check the world's leading VPNs three times a day. This allows us to provide up-to-date information regarding VPN connection speeds in real time.
Our system tests VPNs using the OpenVPN UDP protocol for consistency. It checks for busts (max) speeds and averages across four server locations: the UK, the US, Hong Kong, and South Africa. As a result, we can provide a very reliable snapshot of how the VPN compares to other services on the market.
Below, you can see the results of our tests for a three-month period in the summer of 2021.
The results reveal that Strong VPN had been registering extremely fast speeds during July. However, those download speed averages tailed off and are now falling in range with some of its biggest competitors. This is a shame, and does mean that the average download speeds of 47.7 Mbps are probably higher than what you can actually expect to get right now.
Despite this, Strong VPN appears to be a reasonably fast service that is capable of streaming in HD without buffering. Its connection speeds put StrongVPN in the elite category of VPNs that can cope with data-intensive tasks such as gaming.
Next we checked the VPN's DNS lookup times, as these can have a big impact on initial page load times. We found the VPN to perform particularly well in this area, which will definitely add to how nippy the VPN seems!
IP Leak tests
To test StrongVPN's efficiency for providing privacy to its users, we checked for both IPv4 and IPv6 leaks using a Virtual Machine on Windows.
We tested using an incognito window to ensure there were no cache problems. Our tests revealed no IPv4 leaks, or IPv4 WebRTC leaks. In addition, the results revealed that StrongVPN handles DNS requests with its own servers, which is great.
Unfortunately, however, the VPN does suffer from IPv6 WebRTC leaks. This means that you will need to disable IPv6 to use this VPN securely. To be fair, StrongVPN admits that this is the case, and once IPv6 is disabled on your machine, the VPN will work like a charm.
The good news is that the Windows client now automatically blocks IPv6 connections, which means that you will not suffer any leaks by default. Despite this improvement, however, you may want to disable IPv6 on your system manually to be sure.
These IPv6 leaks are something you must watch out for on all systems apart from Windows – but, it is not necessarily a deal breaker as it is very easy to disable IPv6 on your devices.
Privacy and security
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Being based in the US is not great for privacy. The US is the home of the NSA and the CIA and the US enforces warrants and gag orders that can force firms to give up data about users and keep it a secret for an undefined length of time. Despite this drawback, StrongVPN is a service that advertises a strong no logs VPN policy. That means the VPN is storing no logs whatsoever about the data that passes through its servers.
Where encryption is concerned, this VPN provides a choice of VPN protocols. IKEv2, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec, and OpenVPN are available using its various apps. Our recommended protocol is OpenVPN, and this is available on both desktop versions and Android.
We checked StrongVPN's OpenVPN implementation to ensure it is strong enough to protect subscriber's data from attacks. We found that its encryption implementation exceeds our minimum requirements for privacy and security, meaning that this VPN is secure:
AES 256 cipher with an RSA-2048 handshake, and SHA-1 (HMAC) for hash authentication.
Unfortunately, we were not able to ascertain whether Perfect Forward Secrecy is implemented by this provider. On the whole, however, its OpenVPN encryption seems robust enough for most people's needs.
On the other hand, a VPN can only secure your data as long as the VPN is connected. And, StrongVPN only has a kill-switch in the Windows client. This makes it hard to recommend this VPN for privacy purposes on any platform but Windows.
In addition, we must reiterate that IPv6 has to be disabled manually on your system (apart from on Windows where IPv6 is blocked by the client automatically by default) to use this VPN securely.
The StrongVPN website is useful, however, it lacks important data concerning its encryption implementation standards. Its FAQ section is useful but only provides the bare necessities. The good news is that StrongVPN does have a 24/7 live chat window on its website. I found its agents to be extremely helpful. However, the tech department was only available during the week.
Subscribing is easy, and when talking to live chat they are able to link you to a lot of useful information that is buried within the site. Good overall.
Signing up is easy, and you are not asked to provide a lot of data. This is good and if you sign up with a burner email you can get a subscription with a great amount of privacy. Sadly, crypto-currencies are not available. One thing worth noting is that when you first download the client it automatically assigns you to a "home" server. This server is PPTP, an outdated form of encryption that we do not recommend. For this reason, the first thing you could do after installing StrongVPN is to change its encryption settings in the client's options.
The StrongVPN Windows VPN Client
This is StrongVPN's best client, and we would argue that StrongVPN is much better for Windows users than consumers using any other Operating System.
OpenVPN is available, the software is easy to use, and it is fully featured with IPv4 DNS leak protection and a kill-switch. VPN obfuscation is also available via a feature called scramble. StrongVPN told me that this feature sets the VPN to TCP over port 443 (to disguise OpenVPN traffic as regular HTTP).
We are also happy that IPv6 is now automatically disabled in this client, which removes the need to disable it manually in order to avoid WebRTC leaks.
StrongVPN has apps available for Mac OS X, iOS, and Android. Manual setup instructions are also available for all of these platforms.
Linux, Ubuntu, and Chromium OS operating systems can setup StrongVPN manually using a third-party OpenVPN client. You can also access the VPN from routers running DD-WRT, Tomato, and Sabai router operating systems.
A kill-switch is not available on any of these platforms, which rules StrongVPN out for torrenting on Mac, Android, and iOS. However, if streaming and unblocking content is your main desire this VPN should be fine.
On the other hand, it does suffer from WebRTC leaks on IPv6: so you will need to ensure that IPv6 has been disabled in order to use this VPN securely on any OS but Windows.
WireGuard is a next-generation open-source VPN protocol that has been designed to be both robust and lightweight. It implements stealth by default and is based on a number of robust modern cryptographic primitives. Few VPNs have started providing access to WireGuard but StrongVPN's implementation has just come out of beta and is now fully released.
We decided to test StrongVPN’s implementation of the WireGuard protocol to see how it performs. Subscribers who want to use WireGuard must log in to the website on a specific page. From there, users can select the platform they require a WireGuard client for. This will forward them to the WireGuard website to install the third party client.
We downloaded the Android client to give it a test run – because it is easy to set up using a QR code. However, it is possible to set it up for Windows, Mac, Linux, and iOS if you prefer.
To get started, we selected the location of the server we wanted to connect to (London). We tested WireGuard on an IPv4 connection because an IPv6 implementation is not yet available.
Test VPN for IP Leaks
Once connected to WireGuard, we tested for IP leaks and found that we experienced no IP leaks, DNS leaks, or WebRTC leaks. This means that the tunnel established successfully and without problems. We were impressed by the speed with which a connection is established.
Since reviewing this VPN service, we have created our own VPN leak test. It is easy to use and 100% reliable.
We tested WireGuard speeds on a 50 Mbps Virgin Media connection in the UK and found it to perform extremely well. There was hardly any difference between our connection with and without the VPN. This is truly impressive and definitely makes StrongVPN’s implementation of WireGuard extremely useful.
It is worth bearing in mind that WireGuard is still considered experimental. This means it may still be a bit premature to start using it for security purposes. However, it is nice to see commercial VPNs like Strong experimenting with this well-publicized new protocol. Ten out of ten for effort.
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We spoke with StrongVPN's customer support team at length and found them to be extremely helpful. At one stage we were in a live chat with two of their agents at one time, which is something we have never experienced before.
The tech team was knowledgeable, however, the really techy guys were only available during weekdays. Despite this, we found StrongVPN to have one of the best live chat customer support teams we have ever encountered.
Users can also contact StrongVPN via email if they prefer.
Being based in the US isn't ideal, and the fact that it doesn't have a kill-switch on any platform but Windows limits this VPN substantially. We certainly don't recommend using it for torrenting on any platform but Windows.
However, if you are a Windows user, this VPN is a reasonable option that won't break the bank – as long as you commit for a year.
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