StrongVPN Review

A large US based VPN provider, StrongVPN is both high-profile, and popular. However, despite having a reasonable privacy policy (at least on paper) we found ourselves very unimpressed with its overall attitude to privacy, and it has a known reputation for being aggressive towards filesharers. A lack of transparency over technical security, combined with reluctance to discuss details  also  left us cold. Were the service a budget offering we would recommend avoiding as we do not consider it fit for purpose, but StrongVPN is also the most expensive (by a fair margin) provider that we have ever reviewed. We do hear it’s quite good for China however…

Pricing and Features

When we say expensive, we do mean expensive. While the most basic package can be had for $7 per month, it really is very basic, and most importantly, is PPTP only. Now PPTP is very insecure, so we are doubtful whether any VPN provider worth its salt should even offer it, let alone make it, as StrongVPN does, their primary product. If all that you want out of VPN is access to geo-restricted content then PPTP is ok, but it can be had for a lot less than StrongVPN charges (and StrongVPN’s own $5 per month DNS Package would do the job better). These days we only consider OpenVPN to be up the job of providing meaningful levels of privacy, so it is StrongVPN’s OpenVPN services that we will look at in this review, and as we said, StrongVPN is expensive. Starting at $10 per month (the price of many other provider’s top level packages), and going up to $30 per month, the $20 per month ‘Deluxe’ option is the cheapest OpenVPN plan to give access to servers outside the US, so as we are based in the UK this is the minimum level that we can realistically opt for. This give us access to servers in 19 countries, including Turkey and the Far East (Singapore and Hong Kong).


There are some ‘special’ plans, but the savings are minimal (e.g. $5 per year for Premium OpenVPN)

There is a 3 month minimum on all VPN packages, so that means we have to pay a hefty $60 up-front for the cheapest service we can use. Fortunately StrongVPN offers a 7 day money back guarantee, so you can try out the service before committing to this lengthy period. In addition to being expensive, StrongVPN has the most complex pricing plan structures we have ever seen. The Deluxe and Premium Plans give access to international servers, but other than that the main difference between plans regards how many server switches are allowed (with extra fees for out- of-plan switches). services Given that almost every other VPN provider allows you unlimited server switches (usually to any of its servers), this seems are miserly, especially given the cost of the service. PPTP IP addresses are dynamic, while all OpenVPN ones are static. This is, to be frank, rubbish, and means that uniquely tying a user to activity on the web would be a trivial matter for anyone who can be bothered to do so. Any VPN provider worth its salt uses shared IP’s, making it very difficult to identify any individual user sharing that address with any online activity. StrongVPN offers a DNS package for $5 a month (with 20% discount for VPN users). If all you are after is to access geo-restricted content then this is reasonable deal, and is a much better plan than using PPTP for anything. It is also possible to buy pre-flashed and configured DD-WRT routers direct from StrongVPN. These are a great way to get every internet enabled device in your household connected to one VPN connection, although you do pay for the convenience of having it flashed and configured for you (a Belkin Share N300 router costs $27 from Amazon, while StrongVPN charge $99 + $85 for a year’s VPN subscription). This brings us on to how many devices can be connected at once, and unfortunately (but somewhat unsurprisingly) the answer is just one. One good thing about StrongVPN is that it has a number of mirror sites, and we have heard positive things about its availability from mainland China.

The website and customer service

The StrongVPN website looks good, with smart graphics and creative image slider and rollover effects giving it a very professional appearance. It is easy to navigate and find what information is available, and the website makes a good job of explaining VPN and why you want it. Most information is available in English, Chinese, Spanish and Russian, which reinforces the impression of professionalism, and gives a very international flair to the website.  There are Forum and Blog sections, and a FAQ. The FAQ however is not overly informative, and we had to contact Customer Service over some very basic technical questions. A couple of things worry us about the site. It definitely pushes customers towards its PPTP services, which we believe should be avoided like the plague (except on older devices which only support PPTP), which is a very shoddy attitude for a company supposedly dedicated to providing privacy. Perhaps even worse, was that our Disconnect extension for Firefox reported blocking 99+ tracking objects on the front page alone (mainly from Twitter).


Where StrongVPN scores very well is with its customer support. Live Support seems to be available pretty much around the clock, and its response to our questions was quick. According to the website, staff are available with a wide range of language skills, and we like the fact that customers can post reviews of staff members. However, when we asked some technical questions (regarding encryption levels and dynamic or shared IPs) we had to wait for an expert to be called, who seemed unwilling or unable to answer our questions in full (we got the impression unable). support One feature we really do like about customers service is Team Viewer remote setup, where a StrongVPN staff member can remotely log into your computer and install the VPN for you. VPN is not hard to set up (and StrongVPN’s setup guides are excellent), but this is a nice touch, and one we have not seen anywhere else. Support is also available via Skype, Email, and Voicemail (US number). Despite our reservations about the quality of the technical support, customer service is obviously a big deal to StrongVPN, and is an area in which it excels as long your questions regard sales or simple setup.

Privacy and security

StrongVPN has, at least on paper, a robust privacy policy, and says that it keeps no logs, ‘During our normal course of duties, we do not monitor, record or store logs for any single customers VPN activity. We do not store web traffic data, including websites visited, files downloaded, etc. We will however record the following data:

  1. time, date and location vpn connection was made
  2. duration of the vpn connection
  3. bandwidth used during the connection

This information is regularly cycled within our servers. This information enables StrongVPN to enforce our Terms of Service, spam, crimes using the service, etc. If there is a violation we will use these trace logs to determine which account is in violation. After lengthy analysis of this data, we will terminate the service and/or take further action. ‘ We prefer to see no logs at all kept, but the fact that StrongVPN does not ‘during the normal course of our duties’ keep logs of users’ internet activity is to be applauded. However, and somewhat a odds with this statement, is the fact that StrongVPN has a reputation for being very strict on filesharing, and if you are detected engaging in copyright infringement it will warn you once, before disconnecting the service. Presumably it takes action upon receiving a DMCA notice, and since all IPs are dynamic or static it is a trivial to trace an outfacing IP (included on the DMCA notice) to an offender. As noted earlier, the amount of browser tracking performed does not inspire confidence in StrongVPN’s commitment to online privacy. In terms of technical security, the issue is somewhat confusing, as different servers use everything from 128-bit Blowfish encryption to 256-bit AES. I asked for further clarification, but the technician seemed unable to give it. There is no way to choose your own encryption level, or to determine what encryption you are currently using. Quite frankly, this just isn’t good enough.

The Process

Signing Up

The signing up process is straight forward enough, although as you can see below, a great deal of personal information is required.


It is possible to pay using Bitcoins, but as detailed personal information is still required, this somewhat undermines the point. It is also possible to pay via credit card, wire transfer, Western Union / check and Stripe. Since there was no reason to pay by Bitcoin, we used PayPal, and soon after confirming a PayPal authorisation request we were sent account details and setup information.

The Windows client

StrongVPN has a dedicated VPN client for Windows and OSX.

client 1 As you can see, it is a very basic affair, mainly letting you change server location

switches Unlike any other VPN service we have ever seen, StrongVPN puts a tight limit on how many times you can switch server. Given the high cost of the service anyway, we think this very tight

options There is an options page accessible from the StrongVPN Taskbar icon, but this deals with very technical configuration issues rather than practical user-configurable stuff (such as an internet kill switch, port forwarding, selectable encryption levels, etc.)

Other platforms

Mac users have either StrongVPN’s client, or can take advantage of the licenced copy of Viscocity that is available for free (instructions are also available for Tunnelblick). Setup guides are also provided for Android (OpenVPN for Android) and Linux. iOS is  supported with a guide for setting up using GuizmOVPN, which requires a jailbroken device, but there should be nothing to stop you using OpenVPN Connect for non-jail broken devices, although you are on as regards setting it up. Windows users can also opt to use the generic OpenVPN client instead of StrongVPN’s software.

Speedtest results

We tested StrongVPN’s performance using our 20 GB UK broadband connection (all using default UDP OpenVPN).

st none Without VPN

st uk With VPN, closest UK server

st nl With VPN, Netherlands server

st se With VPN, Swedish server

As you can see, speeds are generally good. The Netherlands result was bit disappointing, and when we tested on a number of different European servers we found a similar range of results. This inconsistency is not awful, but it does leave a fair bit of room for improvement.


We liked

  • Well-presented website
  • Excellent customer service options
  • No usage logs (although we have doubts about this)
  • Performance results ok to good
  • Pre-configured routers available (but expensive)
  • 7 day money back guarantee
  • Reportedly good for access from China

We weren’t so sure about

  • Technical ‘expert’ was either cagey or didn’t know what he was talking about
  • Client works well enough, but is very basic

We hated

  • Very expensive (!)
  • Static IP addresses make a mockery of privacy
  • Harsh attitude to copyright infringement
  • Limited number of server switches
  • Poor attitude to privacy (huge number of tracking objects, encourages use of insecure PPTP protocol)
  • Poor iOS support
  • Lots of personal information required on signup
  • Lack of transparency over encryption standards used
  • Minimum 3 months signup period
  • US based (usually a big minus for us, but given all the other issues is hardly worth mentioning)

The exorbitant prices started us off on a bad foot with StrongVPN, but we could have been won around if it offered an exceptional service for the money. It doesn’t. StrongVPN is all surface – its website looks slick and customer support is excellent, as long as you don’t ask awkward questions. When the techs are reluctant / unable to discuss their security arrangements then alarm bells start to ring. The privacy policy sounds remarkably good, but everything else about StrongVPN’s attitude to privacy gives us little confidence in it. Performance is generally fine, but can vary somewhat. Given that there are lots of VPN providers available who offer much better services for a fraction of what StrongVPN charges, we can only attribute its popularity good PR. Avoid.

Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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27 responses to “StrongVPN Review

    1. Hi Herik,

      Yes indeed. This review is over three years old, and StrongVPN has made major changes to its service since then. I’ve put a re-review on my list :).

  1. I used Strong VPN last year while in China. During that time, someone began purchasing items online with my debit card and I am now in the process of disputing the purchases. I am suspicious of Strong VPN since I have never had this happen before. I would recommend people avoid its service.

    I changed VPNs but found it awkward to it opt out of StrongVPN . I could not find any help on in their FAQ about how to disconnect from them , and stop payments going to them . Avoid .

    1. I am a current StrongVPN user with a renewal coming up in August and am in the process of evaluating other VPNs. The only way to cancel StrongVPN is to contact them through their support; otherwise, they will auto-renew.

      I would also like to thank Douglas for this informative review. I have previously read the terms for StrongVPN and was not aware of their policy on file sharing.

      1. Hi Arnold,

        Thanks, although I will note that I understand StrongVPN has gone through some major changes since I wrote this review. For example, it now offers an All-In-One package for $10 a month (or $69.99 a year).
        It also now permits filesharing and claims to keep no logs at all. I have not looked at the service since I wrote this review (so I cannot comment on whether it is now any good), but it is clear that much has changed…

    strongvpn dont work in the Netherlands to wats netflix end dutch tv. end when you are on internet everywan nows your on ip adres en where you live no security at al

    I bought a subscription as I was travelling to China.
    Did not work, constant errors, Customer service did not have a solve until after I returned. No way to check until I travel to china again. Even though they had issue with their software would not provide refund. I tried them once before in China did not work that time either.
    Never again, have just uninstalled
    The ratings are irrelevant as the service never worked other than when I did not require, ie outside of China

    1. Hi Mark,

      In fairness, VPN in China is always a cat-and-mouse game, and no provider can 100% guarantee that you won’t run into problems with the GFW, especially once you are already inside the country…

    Do not waste your money with strongvpn they have poor encryption. They use RSA 1024 for encryption when it’s already been exploited back in 2010. They should upgrade to RSA 2048 but will they? Who knows.
    i just joined another vpn provider due to this issue. The admin claims they have security settings on their servers?
    90% of SSL VPNs are ‘hopelessly insecure’, say researchers

    1. Hi MikeTO,

      I have been unable to verify this with a quick web search, but if correct, then you are right, using RSA-1024 is very poor show. Note that the finding in the article you mention do not apply to most commercial VPNs providers, very few of which use SSL for VPN connections.

    They gave my information to the police and I was arrested.
    Why I was arrested: Someone suspected that I broke a couple laws (Felony offences) by sending an email with questionable content. It was later found that I did not do any such thing. But.. The fact that strong VPN provided my account billing info (name, address, VPN and originating IP) was quite upsetting. When I contacted them after all was said and done, they keep those logs for a VERY long time. Needless to say, I am no longer using this service and if you value your privacy you’ll stay away from them too.

    1. Hi Jack,

      I agree that StrongVPN is not a service to be trusted when it comes to privacy (it also has a track record of handing over copyright offenders.)

    Basically, for a rookie, I think StrongVPN is OK for what I use it for. I live in Africa and value privacy, but I did get a quick warning from StrongVPN when I downloaded a torrent. That wasn’t a good sign – the fact they could tie it to me. Also, for some time even though I was using a Washington, DC server all my traffic seemed to be generated out of Germany. In fact all my searches were geo-located to Germany!

    When I contacted customer service I was assured there’s a kink sometimes, so they recommended I change servers. I chose another and there’s no problem again. It does make me wonder, though, so I’ll be looking for a new VPN as this one expires.

    Hi all,

    I’ve been a STRONGVPN customer for 3 years now and never had any problems.

    I’m based in the UK and have 152Mbps Broadband with Virgin Media, I’ve tested various servers with Strongvpn & settled on servers based in the US, i use two different server locations, one in New York and one in Los Angeles.

    I alternate between the two locations. I purchased a strongvpn preloaded Router so it allows me to connect multiple devices.

    I get incredibly awesome speeds considering the distance between the UK and US, when connected through a server in New York i get between 45Mbps and 50Mbps down and 11.2Mbps up.

    When connected through a server in Los Angeles that’s slightly slower because of distance & latency but i still get a great consistent speed between 25Mbps and 29Mbps down and 9.2Mbps up.

    I can’t say I’ve ever really needed to contact customer support but when i first subscribed the support was great.

    As for file sharing and torrents, i don’t use torrent download sites but i have read they are very very strict on it and don’t allow it.

    I would always say shop around before you sign up for any VPN service, it all depends on what you want the service for? Read reviews and try get the 7 day free trial if at all possible or go with the money back guarantee.

    I have only tried one other VPN Provider, EXPRESSVPN but there speeds were far too slow for what i wanted.

    There is always the alternative of a Smart DNS to access geographical websites. StrongVPN also offer smart dns services to unlock websites and streaming services.

    Unlockater is a great smart DNS service and pretty cheap & also offer 7 day free trial.

    All in all i definitely recommend STRONGVPN

    Hello everyone,

    I just tried StrongVPN and after 24 hours, I terminated as limited in the number of use of IP addresses and very expensive too . Not convinced by the safety too.
    For a refund , I confirm , serious and honest business that has not been the case with PureVpn and Ironsocket .
    The world of vpn is a jungle and it’s not easy to find a vpn that satisfies you 100 percent.

    I’m sorry but PLEASE DO NOT SIGN UP for this service.

    I bought their lite package as a test, but after doing my research, they seem to be tracking your activity… of which is a BIG NO for me. I want to be able to freely download a torrent without having to watch over my shoulder every now and then to check who’s watching!


    Why isn’t the tapstrong driver signed? I am no longer installing anything on anything anymore without a valid signature.

    This time after rebuiding my LAN for the second time in two months, I chose, “Don’t Install this Driver Software.” I figured that would be it, but the client still installed itself, and a StrongVPN service was created and started and set to “automatic.” Why?

    Right now, it would give zero stars for “Trustworthy” until they at least sign their own stuff!

    I would appreciate it if you would test whether or not websites that have strong IP detection such as Maxmind’s or Cloudflare’s system could detect the IPs, next time when you review a VPN service.

    Actually they got into the VPN service around 2005, when ABC stared the full streaming episode service.
    Before then, like HMA, they are just a network hosting service provider, not privacy service provider.
    So, like ISPs, they are required by law to keep customer information and log their online activities for 1-3(?) months.
    They were one of the few trustworthy VPN providers back then as they had many good customer reviews, which they gave a discount to them for writing, gave you a static dedicated IP, which was said to be better than a shared IP before 2010, as it gives better speed, work better for IP restriction sites, and is more reliable and harder to track down a real IP.

    Hi Jack Kerouac,

    The StrongVPN review is indeed rather old (I believe it was one of the very first we published). I know that (as the review says) we thought that ‘StrongVPN keeps a record of all personal details, logs users online actives, and are able to match external IP addresses to their customers. Also, according to they are the “most outwardly aggressive provider in our survey when it came to dealing with infringement.”‘

    Looking at the privacy policy now, it does seem to be much better than this suggests (we assume it has changed). The metadata collected is not nothing, but the fact that web usage is not tracked it a good thing. We apologise for the images. As you say, it is perhaps time to re-review StrongVPN.

    I was surprised to not see StrongVPN not listed in the TOP 10 given how popular they are. They’ve also been around since 1995 which must be one of the longest-running VPNs. Here’s what they responded to me when asked about the user logs:

    “Name Withheld (Sales & Accounting):

    During our normal course of duties, we do not monitor, record or store logs for any single customers VPN activity. We do not store web traffic data, including websites visited, files downloaded, etc.

    We will however record the following data:

    1. time, date and location vpn connection was made
    2. duration of the vpn connection
    3. bandwidth used during the connection

    For more informaiton, please check our log page:

    Does this review need an update? It would seem so. The images are broken for one thing. I really trust the reviews here, but this looks outdated.

    I have used it for 3 years (from China). Good speed and quality, but slow down happen, from time to time, so I had to switch servers and find a faster one. StrongVPN has different protocols available (PPT, L2TP, SSTP), but prices are not the same depending on what you choose. Servers located in Asia, especially in Singapore, were responding fast. Customer support was fine when I contacted them.
    What I don’t like:
    1) No serious privacy protection (they keep activity log, and they are located in USA, so since US law applies, they may share your activity & log on demand).
    2) Found this on the web (not updated since 2007, so be cautious):
    It’s a list of NSA-affiliated IP range and it contains “Black Oak Computers” (= StrongVPN). Some company may not be aware of it, since NSA as bought large IP range, but that’s not a good sign anyway.

    Not big issues but there are some bad things:
    3) their VPN client application has minor bugs from time to time (but you can use Windows setting)
    4) a bit pricey if you want OpenVPN protocol (need a “deluxe/premium” account).
    5) you cannot switch servers too many times, it’s limited, unless you pay for a deluxe/premium account.
    6) their website in often blocked by China. Although they have alternative URL, but it may be hard to find (since you do not have access to their blog or website, how can you guess there is an alternative URL, unless you receive it by mail?).

    PS: remark for BestVPN website: you should add a ‘privacy’ ranking (with Price, features, reliability, etc.)

    I was a user of Strong VPN for three years. It was ok, good tech support, easy to use etc. Unfortunately they blocked my account for downloading one torrent. That is what they do – block your account in the event of a DRM complaint. No refund for unused service (had 9 months left on my account) – no questions, no inquiry – just blocked. For a VPN that is supposed to protect me from snooping, they just follow the DRM complaint and block you. A good way to make money and make enemies of their customers.

    Good customer service, and it worked after a signed up. Can’t complain. Thanks!

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