Torrenting & P2P
Summary : Can improve on privacy and pricing.
A very high-profile and popular US-based VPN service provider, StrongVPN is definitely one of the oldest, having been established in 1995. While it largely falls on the more expensive side of things, they have a pretty fair logging policy, to start with. What comes across as slightly underwhelming is their privacy quotient, including their stance on keeping mum about the details.
Nevertheless, we believe that StrongVPN stands out, mainly in a country like China.
- Good website and responsive customer support
- Performance – both speeds and bandwidth – when tested were great
- No-logs policy (But is it true? Read on)
- 7-day money back policy
- On the expensive side
- Static IP is not the best for privacy
- Strict copyright infringement rules
- Privacy issues (Technical, and unwillingness to reveal details)
- No monthly plan – minimum 3-month commitment
- Too much personal information asked on sign up
StrongVPN, as the name suggests, has a fairly strong presence as far as its overall network is concerned. With as many as 500 servers spread across 22 countries, concentrated mainly in Europe and North America with few servers in Asia, StrongVPN’s network does indeed come across as a vast and reliable one.
StrongVPN supports the commonly used industry standards, OpenVPN and PPTP protocols.
Performance always has to be a very strong criterion for anyone who chooses to use a VPN service, as no one wants to suffer from poor speeds just because they need a bit of privacy. And our speed test results show that StrongVPN are, in fact, pretty fast. Although certain European servers didn’t blow us away with their performance, they were good enough for typical use, with perhaps some scope for further improvement. Bandwidth isn’t a problem, as StrongVPN offers unlimited bandwidth to their users.
StrongVPN allows IPs in a shared manner for those using PPTP while for OpenVPN users; they are made in a static fashion. This is something of a matter of privacy, considering static IP users can easily be traced back to activities. IP and DNS leak tests came out fine though, and there are no complaints on this segment. The presence of a SmartDNS feature does help the users’ cause here. The service, as such, allows only one connection for a single account.
For a VPN that is so popular and works beautifully technically, StrongVPN’s milquetoast attitude to protecting their users’ privacy took us a bit by surprise, to be honest. We were fairly concerned with a number of things here. While they promise their users with up to 2048-bit encryption, servers being servers can of course pick any algorithm – for example 128-bit Blowfish and 256-bit AES, which are l . There is no simple way by which a user can choose their encryption technique, and also no way to determine beforehand which technique was going to be used during the current session.
As far as logging policies go, StrongVPN’s stance is fairly straightforward, if not ideal. They are known to keep minimal logs, mainly the time, date and location when a VPN connection was made, the duration of the connection, and bandwidth used during the connection. They also clearly state that they do not monitor or record individual connections. However, StrongVPN is also clear enough to point out that they will enforce their Terms of Service in case of any sort of spam, or crimes that are committed, etc. Also, the company maintains a very strict file-sharing policy with regards to any sort of copyright infringement, with defaulters being warned in the first instance and then being disconnected on a second offense.
StrongVPN has applications and clients for Mac, Android, Linux, Windows (also Windows Mobile) and iOS that are all well built and intuitive to use. There are also fairly good guides, which pertain to installation and setup, for all apps and clients.
Support is also available to routers such as DDWRT and Tomato, and, therefore, will certainly be useful to people who use them.
StrongVPN scores well on the aspect of user support. It provides support to users via live chat, Skype, email ticketing system and also, voicemail for US numbers. While the responses to most of our queries seemed to be very quick, we got the impression that some of the questions pertaining to encryption and IPs were unwillingly or unably answered.
The FAQ section of the site, although not very informative, does a fair job of answering simple queries. Besides, the presence of a forum and a blog also helps StrongVPN’s cause.
StrongVPN easily qualifies as one of those expensive VPN services in the present market, and has one of the most complex pricing plans that we have come across so. Such a complex subscription plan, in fact, can be largely confusing to a whole lot of interested customers, to begin with.
All of its service plans are divided with respect to many aspects, like separate packages for PPTP users and the same being for other protocols, international server locations one can choose, number of server switches allowed, encryption standards, etc. Many of these restrictions (in concurrent connections, international servers, server switching, SmartDNS etc) can be lifted by purchasing separately available packs. Also, you’d be wise to note that all packages one subscribes to, have a minimum 3-month compulsory tenure. From our point of view, this puts StrongVPN in the mud.
Payment options for users include Visa/Mastercard, American Express, Diners Club, PayPal, JCB, Bank Transfer and Bitcoin. We didn’t like the fact that a lot of personal information was requested during the signup process. For people, for wish to undertake a trial of the service features, a 7-day money back policy is perhaps worth having.
StrongVPN does sell packages along with routers, for those who might be interested.
StrongVPN is generally well known and its services seem to be applauded by many users. However, we did come across certain complaints regarding warnings with respect to torrenting. Therefore, it does prove that StrongVPN takes their filesharing policy rather strictly.