StrongVPN Review | PCMag

Switching on a VPN routes all of the visitors in your machine by way of a safe connection to a server managed by the VPN supplier, thus shielding your on-line actions out of your ISP and making you tougher to trace. StrongVPN does that, and allows you to use nearly 3 times the typical variety of gadgets on its service. It additionally boasts VPN servers in areas typically ignored by different VPNs. Beyond that, nonetheless, StrongVPN has a clumsy interface and does not provide sufficient further privateness or safety instruments to problem our high VPN decisions like NordVPN. Additionally, for what it presents, it is a bit dear.

(Editors’ Note: StrongVPN is owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag’s mother or father firm.)

How Much Does StrongVPN Cost?

StrongVPN prices $10.99 monthly, which is a little more than the $10.55 common we have seen throughout all of the VPNs we have examined, as talked about above. That stated there are various good, cheap VPNs that rival StrongVPN. Editors’ Choice winner Mullvad VPN, for instance, prices simply €5 ($5.66 USD at time of writing) monthly.

Our Experts Have Tested 17 Products within the VPN Category This Year

Since 1982, PCMag has examined and rated hundreds of merchandise that will help you make higher shopping for selections. (See how we test.)

As with most VPNs, StrongVPN presents a reduced fee when you join a longer-term subscription. An annual plan with StrongVPN prices $79.99 per yr. That’s fairly a bit larger than the $69.10 common and far larger than probably the most reasonably priced providers we have reviewed—a tie between Kaspersky Secure Connection VPN and Ivacy VPN, each of which price $29.99 per yr.

One factor we do not like is StrongVPN’s first-year introductory value of $43.99, which jumps to $79.99 per yr the next yr and all subsequent years. This enhance is clearly communicated at signup, no less than. We’ve seen increasingly more VPNs provide such offers. We’re not followers of this observe, which we have seen different VPNs implementing.

While long-term subscriptions will completely prevent cash, we advocate towards beginning with one. Instead, join the shortest subscription obtainable so you may take a look at out a VPN in your house surroundings to ensure it’s going to meet your wants earlier than committing to something.

If that is all too wealthy in your blood, there are some free VPNs value contemplating. Foremost amongst them is Editors’ Choice winner ProtonVPN, as it’s the solely VPN we have examined but that doesn’t limit the information utilization of free subscribers.

You can buy a subscription with StrongVPN utilizing any main bank card, AliPay, or PayPal. The firm presently doesn’t provide an nameless cryptocoin possibility. Notably, Editors’ Choice winners IVPN and Mullvad VPN each settle for nameless money funds despatched to their respective HQs.

StrongVPN Connecting

StrongVPN has notably been the beneficiary of a consolidation that is beginning throughout the VPN trade. Safer VPN and VPN have each ceased to just accept new prospects and are referring guests to StrongVPN. Both of these providers can nonetheless be utilized by present subscribers.

(Editors’ Note: VPN and SaferVPN are owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag’s mother or father firm.)

What You Get for Your Money

One of StrongVPN’s finest aspects is that it permits as much as 12 gadgets to be related on the similar time, all beneath one subscription. We usually see VPN corporations providing simply 5 simultaneous connections per account, that means StrongVPN will simply deal with a household’s utilization or device-heavy households. Some VPNs, nonetheless, have deserted these restrictions altogether. Avira Phantom VPN, Ghostery Midnight, Editors’ Choice winner Surfshark VPN, and Windscribe VPN all place no restrict on the variety of simultaneous connections.

If you need your VPN connection to cowl each single machine in your home, together with these that may’t run VPN shopper software program, it’s possible you’ll need to configure your router to attach through VPN. Some corporations provide preconfigured routers on the market, however StrongVPN presents instructions. That stated, we do not suppose this setup is for the typical client as it might trigger much more hassle than it is value.

StrongVPN once it's connected

StrongVPN is among the few providers that provides apps for streaming gadgets, particularly, the Amazon Fire TV.

Beyond fundamental VPN safety, StrongVPN has little or no to supply. Some VPNs will allow you to designate which apps ship visitors by way of the VPN and which don’t, a function referred to as cut up tunneling. It’s particularly helpful for high-bandwidth, low-risk actions like streaming video. Weirdly, StrongVPN does provide cut up tunneling in its Android app however on no different platforms.

StrongVPN additionally doesn’t provide multi-hop connections. This function routes your visitors by way of a second VPN server, guaranteeing a safe connection. StrongVPN doesn’t present entry to the free Tor anonymization community through VPN both. While hardly ever essential, these options are nonetheless one thing we wish to see VPNs present. 

Among the providers we have examined, solely Editors’ Choice winners NordVPN and ProtonVPN provide cut up tunneling, multi-hop, and VPN entry to Tor.

Keep in thoughts that whereas a VPN can enhance your privateness, it will not defend towards different threats. We extremely advocate creating distinctive and complicated passwords for every web site and repair with a password manager, enrolling in multi-factor authentication wherever attainable, and utilizing standalone antivirus software.

What Add-Ons Does Strong VPN Offer?

When you connect with a VPN server, you share its IP handle with everybody else on the identical server. This can typically look complicated and even suspicious to some websites and providers who will reply by blocking entry or throwing up further safety challenges. One technique to probably mitigate this problem is to buy a static IP handle or devoted server from a VPN supplier. StrongVPN doesn’t provide this add-on, however many different VPN suppliers do. TorGuard VPN, for example, has a number of the most in depth and reasonably priced add-ons we have seen.

Other VPNs have begun to broaden their choices to change into extra full safety and privateness instruments. Hotspot Shield VPN offers free entry to a number of privateness instruments, whereas NordVPN has a password supervisor and encrypted file locker obtainable for added charges. Given that StrongVPN is owned by the makers of Vipre antivirus, we anticipated to seek out it bundled with antivirus software program, however that is presently not an possibility.

That’s to not say StrongVPN does not include sweeteners. A StrongVPN subscription does entitle you to 250GB of on-line storage with SugarSync, which might usually price $9.99 monthly by itself.

(Editors’ Note: SugarSync and Vipre are each owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag’s mother or father firm.)

What VPN Protocols Does StrongVPN Support?

There are many alternative methods to arrange a safe VPN connection. We choose the OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols. Both are open supply, that means they are often picked over for any potential vulnerabilities. While OpenVPN is the venerable and dependable alternative, WireGuard is the brand new hotness and is seeing rising adoption throughout the trade.

List of available protocols in StrongVPN

StrongVPN helps WireGuard and IKEv2—one other wonderful possibility—in all its apps. After that, it will get a bit complicated. OpenVPN is obtainable on all of StrongVPN’s apps besides iOS. The IPSec protocol is barely obtainable on macOS and iOS gadgets. The macOS app additionally has help for L2TP, and the Windows app helps L2TP together with SSTP. These final two choices are largely for legacy help, and we do not advocate utilizing both of them when you might help it.

StrongVPN Servers and Server Locations

An excellent VPN service may have quite a few servers distributed around the globe. More server areas means extra choices for spoofing your location, and it makes it simpler to discover a server close to to wherever you might be. StrongVPN offers servers in 30 international locations, fairly a bit under the 53-country common we have seen throughout the trade. ExpressVPN has servers in 94 international locations.

That stated, StrongVPN has a various mixture of areas to assist make up the distinction. The firm has a number of server areas throughout South America and two in Africa—each of that are areas typically ignored by VPN corporations. 

StrongVPN does not provide servers in lots of international locations with repressive web insurance policies, nonetheless. The firm has servers in Turkey, however none in mainland China, Hong Kong, Russia, or Vietnam. Keep in thoughts, nonetheless, that if you wish to bypass censorship, you may want to hook up with a VPN outdoors the repressive nation.

List of server locations for StrongVPN

In whole, StrongVPN says that it has greater than 950 servers, which is on the small aspect for a VPN supplier. Total variety of servers doesn’t essentially correlate with higher efficiency, however it does not damage, both.

Some VPN corporations make use of digital areas, that are VPN servers configured to seem someplace apart from the place they’re bodily positioned. This generally is a good factor, granting protection to areas the place it is likely to be too harmful to deal with a server. However, we choose that corporations clearly mark which servers are digital. It’s a moot level for StrongVPN, as the corporate tells us it does not use any digital areas and all servers are housed the place they are saying they’re positioned.

In addition to digital areas, many VPNs additionally make use of digital servers. These are software program outlined servers, the place a single {hardware} server can play host to a number of digital ones. StrongVPN didn’t go into element about its server utilization however did say that it instantly owns and manages 80% of its servers and leases the remaining. This isn’t uncommon, however we might wish to see extra about how the corporate ensures the safety of its leased infrastructure.

To safe its servers, StrongVPN says that it makes use of full disk encryption. That’s good. Some corporations go additional, utilizing diskless or RAM-only servers that write no knowledge to disk in any respect. ExpressVPN and NordVPN are two such corporations, however there are various others. Such servers have the additional advantage of being tamper resistant, as any knowledge presently saved on them is misplaced if somebody makes an attempt to bodily seize and disconnect them. StrongVPN says that it considers encryption to be as safe as diskless operation.

Your Privacy With Strong VPN

Because all of your knowledge passes by way of the VPN’s infrastructure, you’ll want to be assured that the corporate will defend your privateness and never abuse its privileged place. As a part of our testing, we learn the privateness coverage of every firm and have them fill out a questionnaire to place their privateness practices on file.

StrongVPN’s privateness coverage is dry studying, nothing just like the in-depth borderline instructional paperwork from Mullvad VPN. Nor does it have the pleasant, simple studying sections of TunnelBear VPN’s coverage. Still, StrongVPN’s coverage is comprehensible and straightforward to learn.

An organization consultant instructed us that StrongVPN doesn’t collect IP addresses or connection timestamps, nor does it log the web exercise of its customers. Importantly, we have been instructed that the corporate doesn’t generate income outdoors of subscriptions, that means that your knowledge is not being offered or leased. That wonderful stance is reiterated all through the corporate’s privateness coverage.

In its privateness coverage, StrongVPN follows a current development of offering info on particular cookies it makes use of on its web site, and the right way to disable them. It additionally runs by way of a full checklist of the third-party providers it makes use of. We actually respect this stage of transparency. 

The coverage additionally states that the corporate doesn’t share prospects’ private info with third-party providers, which we additionally respect. However, a later part on knowledge retention doesn’t define a transparent window for a way lengthy the corporate retains details about you. StrongVPN ought to try to retain as little info as attainable.

The consultant we spoke with did notice that the StrongVPN app does generate diagnostic logs which can include IP addresses or timestamps. But these are user-editable and might solely be submitted voluntarily by prospects. That’s a wise compromise.

StrongVPN relies in New York and operates beneath US authorized jurisdiction. It is owned by Strong Technology LLC, which is in flip a part of the Vipre Security Group, itself part of Ziff Davis. Ziff Davis can also be the writer of PCMag.

A transparency report logs all the knowledge requests put to the corporate by regulation enforcement and the way it responded. A warrant canary is a delicate technique to point out if the corporate is being compelled to cooperate with regulation enforcement or an intelligence company however is legally restricted from disclosing this info instantly. StrongVPN has neither of those, which is a disgrace. It ought to no less than start publishing a transparency report as many different rivals already do.

Many different VPNs have begun releasing the outcomes of third-party audits to validate their safety and privateness bona fides. TunnelBear VPN, for instance, has saved its promise to launch annual safety audits. A StrongVPN consultant stated the corporate has not undergone a third-party audit, however it plans on doing so. Although audits are removed from good, they’re helpful instruments for demonstrating transparency to prospects. 

With safety and privateness instruments, belief is paramount. If you do not really feel like you may belief a VPN, for no matter motive, go searching for one which higher meets your wants.

Hands On With StrongVPN on Windows

We had no hassle putting in the StrongVPN app on an Intel NUC Kit NUC8i7BEH (Bean Canyon) desktop operating the newest model of Windows 10. Note that StrongVPN additionally presents apps for Android, iOS, and macOS. Unusually, it additionally offers apps for ChromeOS and Amazon Fire TV. We sit up for testing Strong VPN on different platforms quickly.

Once it was up and operating, we have been shocked to seek out StrongVPN each slick and underwhelming on the similar time. The app is constructed round a map of the world, with a pronounced Connect button clearly seen. Click it, and you will be routinely related to the VPN server the app thinks is finest. While we respect the straightforwardness, it’s totally small and cramped wanting. Editors’ Choice winner TunnelBear VPN neatly balances simplicity with shiny colours and bears, for a way more accessible expertise.

To change VPN servers, it’s a must to click on on the phrases Best Available on the principle display screen. This isn’t intuitive, and it took us some time earlier than we figured it out. From the server choice web page, you may search obtainable servers or scroll by way of the checklist, which reveals all of the obtainable cities with VPN servers. You can’t choose a person server or mark a most well-liked location as a favourite, nonetheless. That’s disappointing.

Strong VPN Settings panel

Clicking the gear within the higher proper nook opens the Settings menu. From the Protocol part you may view an inventory of the supported VPN protocols and select which you favor. The default possibility is WireGuard. StrongVPN contains helpful descriptions of every protocol that we actually respect. However, there is not any possibility to easily let the app select the most effective protocol. Most different VPNs give customers this set-and-forget possibility.

With StrongVPN’s restricted function set, there’s not rather more you are able to do with the app. From the Settings you may change the app’s language, whether or not it seems within the taskbar, and so forth. The most helpful options listed below are Auto Reconnect, which reconnects you within the even StrongVPN drops your connection, and Kill Switch, which prevents your pc from accessing the web till the VPN reconnects. The Kill Switch labored as anticipated in our testing.

Many, if not most, VPN customers are eager to stream video from different international locations. As a end result, many streaming providers block entry from VPN customers. In our testing, nonetheless, we have been capable of stream Netflix whereas related to a US-based StrongVPN server.

A VPN that leaks your info is not value a lot. In our testing, we confirmed that StrongVPN efficiently modified our public IP handle. Using the DNS Leak Test tool, we additionally confirmed that our DNS requests have been secured. Note that we solely examined one VPN server; others could also be misconfigured.

Speed and Performance

Any VPN you employ will nearly definitely decelerate your add and obtain speeds and enhance your latency. To get a way of this affect, we run a sequence of exams with the Ookla Speedtest device and examine outcomes with and with no VPN to discover a % change. You can learn all about our testing procedures within the precisely named article How We Test VPNs.

(Editors’ Note: Ookla is owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag’s mother or father firm.)

StrongVPN carried out exceptionally nicely in our velocity testing. At the time of writing, it’s throughout the high three quickest VPNs. We discovered that StrongVPN decreased obtain and add Speedtest outcomes by solely 15.6% and 25.1%, respectively. StrongVPN had a much less stellar displaying in latency, because it elevated Speedtest latency outcomes by 100%.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has restricted our entry to the PCMag Labs and we have needed to adjust our testing accordingly. The chart under reveals the Speedtest outcomes of all of the merchandise we have examined up to now. We will replace it with new numbers as we get them.

Keep in thoughts that VPNs are fickle, and your expertise of utilizing any service will range immensely relying on when, how, the place, and on which machine you employ a VPN. That’s why we advocate focusing extra on the privateness protections and worth a service presents moderately than its velocity.

Just How Strong Is StrongVPN?

StrongVPN does have some noteworthy strengths. By permitting 12 simultaneous connections, it’s going to cowl most households. It additionally has a superb distribution of servers, overlaying areas typically ignored by VPN suppliers. But even on these factors, there are providers that provide greater than StrongVPN.

StrongVPN offers simply the fundamentals of a VPN, with not one of the further privateness instruments like multi-hop or the comfort of options like cut up tunneling. It additionally wants to finish a third-party audit and will problem a transparency report. Moreover, StrongVPN might use an overhaul its app to provide it a extra trendy look and make it extra intuitive to make use of.

Among our Editors’ Choice winners there are a number of VPN providers that surpass StrongVPN. Mullvad VPN is inexpensive and extra privateness centered, ProtonVPN presents extra options, Surfshark VPN permits as many gadgets as you need, and TunnelBear VPN has a very charming person expertise. StrongVPN must bulk as much as beat this competitors.

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