Fast and no-nonsense, with a superb Android interface, but confusing options and being based in the US will worry serious users.
Price When Reviewed
$5.83 per month
Best Prices Today: StrongVPN
StrongVPN, as the name suggests, is a VPN, or virtual private network. It can be used to browse the web while using an IP address based somewhere else in the world, letting you stay anonymous or access region-locked content like US Netflix. Our VPN round-up explains the concept in more detail.
StrongVPN is owned by Reliable Hosting, a US-based hosting provider, which is in the top tier of the ’14 eyes’ nations. That means that the company could be compelled to share user data with governments within the 14 countries, including the UK and US.
You can choose your server directly, and select the best by testing those available in a territory. However, for the US the options are ‘Open’ (we hope that means OpenVPN and not unencrypted) and the dreadfully insecure PPTP.
Clicking ‘Run Test’ will test the throughput of the servers. However, selecting the default Open option produced no results. Selecting PPTP did query all servers. StrongVPN’s support service told us to try testing servers from their website instead of our machine – not a great solution.
It also takes a long time to query all US servers – around 10 minutes. Once the best server has been automatically selected, the main interface says it is using SSTP by default, though there are also options for the obsolete PPTP and the secure L2TP.
A good perusal of the online documentation is warranted to get the best out of StrongVPN, For example, a kill switch is implemented by unticking “Allow direct traffic when reconnecting.” Worryingly, this is already ticked, meaning that your IP address will be exposed by default if the VPN tunnel drops.
Selecting the Miami server in the Windows client allowed access to Netflix US, but this was not the case on the Android version, which was spotted and blocked.
We really wanted to like this VPN, but the technical nature of the product and having to plough through online documentation was frustrating. What is the port list? Why is the protocol choice set to Package Tier? What does that mean?
With limited time, Google was the best way of navigating the complex mesh of documents. Those with a desire for true anonymity won’t be interested in asking questions on the user forum, either.
Having apparently slated the product, we will say that the Android version has much to merit it. The interface is clean and simple, and it just works. It’s ideal for users on the move where Wi-Fi is insecure, though selecting a different server can take a few seconds.
StrongVPN is available on a wide range of platforms, including Windows, Mac, iPhone, Android, Linux, Amazon Kindle, and several home routers. Payment options cover all the usual bases, including credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin and Alipay.
The money-back guarantee is 5 days, but with 5 simultaneous connections the $10/month or $69.96/year fee is extremely competitive.