StrongVPN has a solid amount of servers (over 500!) in 23 countries, which includes places like Central America, Oceania, the Middle East and Asia, though I have yet to see their servers in Africa or in South America.
Hopefully, as more customer requests come in, StrongVPN will extend their presence in a lot of these regions, making it a better deal for travelers and business people who find themselves looking for a quicker VPN connection in and around these parts of the globe.
StrongVPN is seriously involved with comprehensive customer service, as is the American way. And that’s a key difference between US based VPN providers and some European ones; the US pretty much always trumps on customer service. But privacy? We’ll get to that.
They offer 24/7/365 support through multiple outlets. They have a dedicated Live Chat option and they also run an email ticketing system.
In addition, they have an FAQ page where users can try to find the answers to their own questions (who wants to do that?), as well as a SetupPage, which assists customers with the technical elements of launching the desktop client.
I was pretty impressed by the response time on the Live Chat system: responses rarely took longer than 1 minute to come through. With the email support system, answers were also fairly expedient and perhaps a bit more in depth than what I’d gotten from the Live Chat operator.
There seemed to be a bit of a discrepancy between the technical comprehension levels of the two responders, which could affect your decision to choose a help outlet for a specific issue.
Like Buffered, StrongVPN is no longer offering a free trial period for interested customers, and instead has replaced this with a 5 day money back guarantee. This is a trend among the most popular providers in the VPN world of late. Are they simply oversubscribed?
In all honesty, I would prefer a longer money back period and a free trial. I feel like that’s just good business, especially when the service is not as competitively priced as I’d like it to be.
StrongVPN offers three different plans. The monthly is a couple of dollars more expensive than competitors. The 3-month is competitively priced, and the yearly is a steal.
- 1-month plan is $10 per month
- 3-month plan is $8
- 12-month plan is $5.83 per month, or $69.96 per year.
Every plan includes all of StrongVPN’s features: PPTP / L2TP / OPEN / SSTP security protocols, servers in 45 cities in 23 countries, complete online security, high speed connections, free software on multiple devices, free StrongDNS included, 5 device simultaneous connection, a no log policy and a 5-day money-back guarantee.
The ability to connect 5 devices simultaneously is generous. In that way, you might be able to share the service with a friend or family member and minimize costs.
I think it’s great that StrongVPN has started to include free StrongDNS, which will allow users to access unrestricted web content at lightning fast speeds.
This is especially helpful for users who need to fight their way through censorship restrictions or even regional or geo restrictions- which I actually appreciate a lot because I always have the urge to watch tv or movies that are not available in my current location.
I’ve never had any issues accessing a previously blocked media streaming site with StrongVPN. It also works well in China, for users who wonder if it’s strong enough to stand up to China’s great firewall.
The desktop version of StrongVPN is very barebones, but I actually appreciate the simplicity. I hate having a lot of bells and whistles for my eyes to navigate. StrongVPN gives you just the basics, complete with tucked-away technical options.
Note that the best feature ever, the Kill Switch, is only available on the Windows desktop client, which is a bit of a bummer for me as I have a Mac. The Kill Switch is my favorite line of defense in the event of a VPN disconnection, as I work over unsecured public networks a lot.
An important note too: StrongVPN actually limits the amount of times you can switch your server. This makes no sense to me, I’ve never seen this before and it is downright ridiculous.
Security & Privacy
After wading through it, I realized that it was much more aimed at lawyers than it was aimed at me, the common user, which was a little bizarre.
Some valuable information I squeezed out of the website was that the company
does not collect or log any traffic or use of its Virtual Private Network service
which is sort of untrue because while they are “logless” they do log connection details, session duration and bandwidth used. But many other VPNs do this too. They collect this data and delete it, usually within 6 weeks to 3 months.
Besides lack of transparency about what they’d be required to hand over in the event of a court order (we have no idea), StrongVPN’s status as an American provider is a bit tenuous, at best.
StrongVPN claims that it doesn’t store this information, but only scans through it to ensure that their Terms of Service are being followed, which is especially strict on filesharing and on copyright infringement, which it takes very seriously.
In fact, if they detect you engaging in torrenting, they’ll warn you once and then in lieu of a second warning, cut your VPN service.
Not quite sure how I feel about this. I have my personal views on file sharing, but those aside, this seems sort of ‘big-brother’ in a way that VPN services are not supposed to be.
This policy is most certainly attributable to StrongVPN’s country of origin, and that is ultimately a deciding factor for me.
StrongVPN offers PPTP/L2TP and OpenVPN. Its OpenVPN has 256-bit encryption and data authentication via digital certificates.
Speed & Performance
Speeds with StrongVPN were pretty great, in my opinion, though I did notice a bit of inconsistency over UK based servers.
I liked that upload and download speeds were largely unchanged, if not faster at times. There’s also a pretty minimal loss in speed while connecting, which is a great bonus.
I thought that StrongVPN’s customer support is great, though response quality varied a bit depending on whether or not you choose Live Chat or email ticketing system.
When they say 24/7/365, they really mean it! I’ve never had to wait long and the Live Chat option definitely yielded the quickest (but not most comprehensive) results.
StrongVPN offers a 5 day, money back guarantee, which is not one of the most generous I’ve seen. In addition, they no longer offer a free trial, which I think is preposterous considering the monthly price is on the higher side of the industry.
Signing Up & Getting Started
With StrongVPN, signing up is pretty easy, and they actually have a dedicated option where a customer service rep can download the system for you, which is super helpful for tech newbies. This is largely unrivaled.
The only downside to the signup process is that compared to a many other VPN companies, they require a lot of personal information. They allow you to pay with credit card, wire transfer, check and PayPal.
There’s also the option to pay with Bitcoin, the anonymity of which is sort of negated by the extensive personal details needed to sign up.
StrongVPN Review Conclusion
StrongVPN offered good speeds and nice security protocols, but doubts still linger about its status as an American-based VPN provider. The monthly price is leaning on the high side, though the 5 device connection may be worth it.
They do offer free DNS, but features like the Kill Switch are only available on the Windows client.
StrongVPN’s customer support was prompt, helpful, available 24/7/365 and versatile!
The desktop client is nicely laid out and intuitive, if a bit bare bones, and the mobile is user-friendly and easy to get on with.
One big bummer is that StrongVPN does not have unlimited server switches.
- Great speeds
- Great customer service
- The price
- Kill switch only available on Windows
- Limited server switches