Best Free VPN Reviews 2014

Which VPN provider offers the best Free VPN accounts in the market? The only independent Best VPN Reviews site tests and reviews all free VPN services.

Best Premium VPN Reviews 2014

Which VPN provider offers the best Premium VPN accounts in the market? The only independent Best VPN Reviews site tests and reviews all premium VPN services.

Home » Best Premium VPN Reviews 2014, Best VPN Reviews

Strong VPN Review

Editor's Overall Rating: 
6 User Reviews
Strong VPN Review
Editor's Rating
Order to Installation
Software/GUI
Ease of Use
Features
Network & Speed
Help & Support
Scope of Protection
Overall Rating


Site: www.strongvpn.com
Alternative sites: www.reliablehosting.com, best-vpn.info
Site languages: En

Strong VPN INTRODUCTION

StrongVPN provides OpenVPN security with two other protocols. It provides the basic OpenVPN standard utilizing the off the shelf OpenVPN software application at the high end of the price range. StrongVPN packages are based on location and switching server fees per cities and countries. StrongVPN is managed by Reliable Hosting which is a large USA Internet Service Provider also selling hosting and server services. After you choose a package you are limited to cities/countries and max number of switching between servers per month. If you switch more than the allotment, this service becomes one of the most expensive VPN services available on a monthly basis – the premium service with max switching is $45 per month or $500 per year.

Strong VPN service is the standard OpenVPN technology with PPTP and L2TP protocols as well. At this time we are reviewing the OpenVPN protocol only.

Strong VPN Privacy Policy and TOS not only do not protect the user but puts the user at the same risk he now has with his own ISP. The very notion of using an ISP as a VPN service is a contradiction in terms of privacy and security.

Review Summary

StrongVPN is large USA Internet Service Provider with great support. The service uses the standard OpenVPN technology GUI with no added features but a good server network located in 13 countries. StrongVPN packages are based on location and switching server fees per cities and countries. After you choose a package you are limited to cities/countries and max number of switching between servers per month. If you switch more than the allotment, this service becomes one of the most expensive VPN services available on a monthly basis.

The Privacy Policy and TOS not only do not protect the user but puts the user at the same risk he now has with his own ISP. The very notion of using an ISP as a VPN service is a contradiction of privacy and security terms. Any personal information this ISP collects can be transmitted to third parties at their discretion.

Strong VPN PROS:
• Unlimited bandwidth
• 7 day money back guarantee
• Dynamic IPs and Static IPs available
• Server network in 13 countries
• Good and attentive support

Strong VPN CONS:
• Switching costs high and inconvenient
• Expensive packages when considering many countries and switching costs
• Difficult to understand packages that can’t be interchanged.
• Application standard OpenVPN with NO features
• Non-user friendly software application, inconvenient to use
• Difficult installation procedure – having to place files in the OpenVPN config separately
• No automation on start up
• No automatic choice of fastest server (lowest latency)
• Does not protect your originating IP if the internet connection fails. All your applications will be switched to your local IP and you may not know it – an OpenVPN problem that is fixed by the better VPN services.
• Only 128 bit encryption (256 could be provided as an alternative)
• Does not support IPv6
• Logs and stores personal information and places session and persistent cookies on your browser which reads your browsing history and bookmarks.
• No privacy. The privacy policy is designed to collect personal data and allows StrongVPN to disclose at its own discretion
• This is an ISP with VPN services. ISPs are regulated and cannot provide online privacy
• Management and ISP server network is predominantly located in USA

Full Review

From Order to Installation: ★★★☆☆ 

With StrongVPN your account is up and running within 1 hour if you use your credit card. I received my login credentials in a few minutes after my Checkout and was able to connect with StrongVPN a few minutes later.

StrongVPN utilizes the standard OpenVPN electronic download for the basic executable application:

best-vpn-review

best-vpn-review

After downloading the OpenVPN application one has to copy and paste the server locations and certificates from the StrongVPN email to the config file in the OpenVPN folder in your C drive:

best-vpn-review

After pasting the certificates into your config file in the OpenVPN folder, you can run the program.

Software/GUI: ★★★☆☆ 

StrongVPN employs OpenVPN standard application with no modifications. The application is the unmodified OpenVPN format that requires it to be opened with admin permissions (Windows & and Vista), login credentials have to be entered for each launch of the application (no possibility to save password); server has to be chosen for each launch, as in full OpenVPN implementation. This is your StrongVPN application:

best-vpn-review

It’s hard to believe but this is your entire application and features with StrongVPN. Click on connect and you can choose a server. That’s about it, no other features for the premium plan with limited switching of $360 per year. There are VPNs with much better features, privacy and no switching costs for one third the price.

This software lets you know your location and IP address but this is typical OpenVPN with few features and not very convenient. You basically have to run the application from the sys tray to open it. So like OpenVPN standard procedure, you have to open the application with windows permission, open the GUI, click on options, click on the server and select and then put in the login credentials. As many as 5 clicks to run the application. Not exactly convenient.

You know that you are securely connected when you see the green icon in the sys tray. If it’s yellow, it’s connecting, red and the VPN is disconnected.

Updates: StrongVPN provides automated updates which are based on Openvpn.org.

Ease of Use: ★★☆☆☆ 

As this is the standard OpenVPN application, it is not very user friendly. It cannot be automated for startup of the computer and requires some 6 clicks to start each time. If one needs to restart this application a couple of times a day, it’s tiresome.

Features: ★★½☆☆ 

StrongVPN has all of the standard features of OpenVPN but has not added ANY application features of its own to the standard OpenVPN configuration. It has no automated features, nor does it automatically start on startup or automatically protect your connection when there is a failure of the underlying internet connection. If the underlying connection fails and turn back on, you would not realize that your applications that you turned on with VPN now are on your originating IP. The better (and cheaper) VPNs have many important features and this basic OpenVPN application is a nuisance.

Server Network: Location, Availability & Speed: ★★★½☆ 

Being able to switch servers at will is a privacy and security benefit. I am not a fan of services using switching as a toll charge device to make money for what is really no cost to the VPN service, particularly as ReliableHosting is an ISP in the server business. Being unable to switch at will because of a monthly cap reduces security and convenience. Also if you choose a package you are stuck with those servers until the end of your subscription period.

The choices include: cities in one country, cities in 8 countries, cities in 9 countries and their max plan of 13 countries for $30 a month but a max of 12 switches which means you can switch one server per month. If you want additional 30 switches, plan on spending $45 per month or $500 per year for this premium service.

StrongVPN has a network of 107servers in 13 countries. The locations include: USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Luxembourg, France, Malaysia, Russia, HK and Singapore. There are no non-cooperative servers within a small number of hops and latency from the USA so for an American user, this VPN does not provide adequate security (if you use the off shore servers for sensitive activities), particularly as the service is really an ISP selling VPN services.

Initially I connected with the US Chicago server.
Example ping time from Chicago, USA to Rotterdam, Netherlands was 123 ms.

Without StrongVPN the ping time was 114ms, so there was some latency (7%) on this server test at 4.30PM EST.

Keep in mind that VPN providers that are based in the USA and have servers in other cooperative jurisdictions cannot protect your data as it is transmitted across their servers. By definition a court order in cooperative regions can force StrongVPN to log, cache and submit any information to local and international authorities not withstanding StrongVPN’s current Privacy Policy to the contrary (which is not helpful to the user in any event because StrongVPN states it would hand over your personal information on a discretionary basis).

Presale Support to Product Help & Support: ★★★★★ 

All presale questions are answered within one hour generally by form emails or by live chat.

Post-sale support is done by live chat and I found this very convenient and one of the best support services of any of the VPN services. If the live support can’t answer a question, they find someone online who can within minutes. Although most of the support is Russian/Ukrainian, several Americans sit in including top management. This is the best thing about StrongVPN and something from which all their competitors could learn.

Scope of Protection:

Protocols: ★★★½☆ 

Utilizing standard VPN protocols, StrongVPN changes your IP, removes packet headers and provides you with a single assigned IP from any of its servers. The dynamically allocated shared IP adds security by making sure your data packets are mixed up with everyone else’s as they exit StrongVPN’s servers. StrongVPN provides you with the choice between Dynamic IP Servers and Static IP servers which is very useful for use with PayPal accounts and Credit Card vendors.

Protocols: OpenVPN standard

StrongVPN does not support IPv6 or port forwarding. SMTP mail is not permitted.

Encryption: Pending Test

Encryption Strength Specified: 128 Bit

The effectiveness of any VPN provider is dependent on how effective is the encryption. Our independent encryption Test of StrongVPN is in process and will be posted here when completed.

Open VPN provides 128Bit. StrongVPN chose the less strong encryption standard probably because it provides a faster connection for the user.

Server Security: ★☆☆☆☆ 

From initial tests it appears that after a user downloads and installs the StrongVPN product, an internal number is generated connecting to the user’s ID. The cookie generated by StrongVPN reads bookmarks and browsing history.

Servers are not PCI compliant and appear to have high level network vulnerabilities. The server admin does not comply with ISACF in most cases.

This is supported by StrongVPN who does state:
1. “we cannot guarantee that the information submitted to, maintained on, or transmitted from our systems will be completely secure.” This means that they recognize that their server security is weak and hackable.
2. “BOC urges its clients to assume that all of their on-line communications are insecure. BOC cannot take any responsibility for the security of information transmitted BOC’s facilities.” This does not leave any doubt about what StrongVPN thinks about its VPN service and their security.

More in depth tests reveal all the StrongVPN Windows servers are vulnerable to VNC attacks from which executable files can be executed and all the data can be sniffed, including passwords, cookies, browsing history, etc. This is a critical vulnerability and makes their network vulnerable. From a user’s point of view, the fact that the connection with StrongVPN may be encrypted is made vulnerable because all the data is available to hacker’s on StrongVPN’s servers.

One thing that is often overlooked by VPN users is that an encrypted connection is not sufficient if the server network of the VPN service is vulnerable. In a way, it’s better to risk an open connection than have all your data available on servers which can be grabbed by hackers, third parties, or government agencies.

Privacy: ★☆☆☆☆ 

This is an ISP that also sells VPN. Using an ISP to provide VPN is the same as inviting the federal government into your living room. Make no mistake, ISP are under pressure to log and cache under strengthening data protection and data retention laws.

StrongVPN’s main business is Reliable Hosting which provides hosting and server services. As its own ISP it has more stringent rules and regulations than a VPN service that hosts at a third party server hosting service. StrongVPN is a Designated Copyright Agent which means if you download one song or video you could be liable from StrongVPN’s point of view as they are acting as the Designated Copyright Agent. As that agent they, themselves, are liable to diligently go after ANY copyright infringements, no matter how minor. StrongVPN cannot jeopardize its hosting service with blacklisted IPs or government investigations. So StrongVPN will provide your personal data to government investigators and third parties at their own discretion faster than you can say StrongVPN.

Their Privacy Policy, Logkeeping Policy and TOS clearly state that position:

1. They collect cookies…” While not all of the information that we collect from Users is personally identifiable, it may be associated with personally identifiable information that Users provide us through our Web site.” This means they use persistent as well as session cookies and can trace your browsing history.
2. StrongVPN logs enough information to trace logs to determine, at their discretion, if a violation of the TOS took place.
3. “we cannot guarantee that the information submitted to, maintained on, or transmitted from our systems will be completely secure.” This means that they recognize that there server security is weak and hackable.
4. “…will not, in normal practice, monitor the communications of its clients to ensure that they comply with BOC policy or applicable law.” Black Oak Computers (BOC) provides services under the name of StrongVPN. Their statement does not state: ‘we will not’ but the much weaker: ‘in normal practice’ which means that StrongVPN, at their discretion determines what is normal practice and outside of normal practice they monitor your communications.
5. “BOC urges its clients to assume that all of their on-line communications are insecure. BOC cannot take any responsibility for the security of information transmitted BOC’s facilities.”
This does not leave any doubt about what StrongVPN thinks about its VPN service and their security.
6. “BOC may disclose information, including but not limited to, information concerning a client, a transmission made using our network, or a web site, in order to comply with a court order, subpoena, summons, discovery request, warrant, statute, regulation, or USA governmental request. BOC assumes no obligation to inform the client that client information has been provided…” This means they will turn over any information that is logged or cached or collected by cookies or otherwise pursuant to an investigation and not even wait for a court order.
7. “BOC may disclose client information or information transmitted over its network where necessary to protect BOC and others from harm, or where such disclosure is necessary to the proper operation of the system.” This means that StrongVPN will disclose client information at their discretion without even a government inspired investigation or your knowing that the information has been disclosed.
8. As an ISP, StrongVPN is subject to: “Pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Title 17, United States Code, Section 512(c), a copyright owner or its authorized agent (“Complainant”) may submit a notification alleging copyright infringement to BOC’s Designated Copyright Agent if Complainant has a good-faith belief that its works are being infringed by material subject to BOC’s control.” This means that if you download one song or video you could be liable from StrongVPN’s point of view as they are acting as the designated copyright agent. As that agent they are liable to diligently go after ANY copyright infringements, no matter how minor.

How anyone would consider using an ISP and regulated hosting service as a VPN service is beyond me. Isn’t the whole idea of using a VPN to anonymize your data so that your ISP does not log and cache your browsing history and communications?

Strong VPN Review Summary

StrongVPN is large USA Internet Service Provider with great support. The service uses the standard OpenVPN technology GUI with no added features but a good server network located in 13 countries. StrongVPN packages are based on location and switching server fees per cities and countries. After you choose a package you are limited to cities/countries and max number of switching between servers per month. If you switch more than the allotment, this service becomes one of the most expensive VPN services available on a monthly basis.

The Privacy Policy and TOS not only do not protect the user but puts the user at the same risk he now has with his own ISP. The very notion of using an ISP as a VPN service is a contradiction of privacy and security terms. Any personal information this ISP collects can be transmitted to third parties at their discretion.

Strong VPN PROS:
• Unlimited bandwidth
• 7 day money back guarantee
• Dynamic IPs and Static IPs available
• Server network in 13 countries
• Good and attentive support

Strong VPN CONS:
• Switching costs high and inconvenient
• Expensive packages when considering many countries and switching costs
• Difficult to understand packages that can’t be interchanged.
• Application standard OpenVPN with NO features
• Non-user friendly software application, inconvenient to use
• Difficult installation procedure – having to place files in the OpenVPN config separately
• No automation on start up
• No automatic choice of fastest server (lowest latency)
• Does not protect your originating IP if the internet connection fails. All your applications will be switched to your local IP and you may not know it – an OpenVPN problem that is fixed by the better VPN services.
• Only 128 bit encryption (256 could be provided as an alternative)
• Does not support IPv6
• Logs and stores personal information and places session and persistent cookies on your browser which reads your browsing history and bookmarks.
• No privacy. The privacy policy is designed to collect personal data and allows StrongVPN to disclose at its own discretion
• This is an ISP with VPN services. ISPs are regulated and cannot provide online privacy
• Management and ISP server network is predominantly located in USA

Editor’s Rating
Order to Installation
Software/GUI
Ease of Use
Features
Network & Speed
Help & Support
Scope of Protection
Overall Rating

Features Overview

Strong VPN Service Description
Price: 21-90 USD per 3 months
40-180 USD per 6 months
75-210 USD per year
Depending on the servers you choose
Bandwidth Limitations: Unlimited
Server Locations: US, CA, NL, DE, LUX, FR, NO, CH, RUS, MY, HK, SI
No server switching
Data Logging: Yes
VPN Protocols: PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN
Encryption Strength: 128 bit
Public IP: Shared dynamically allocated, dedicated
Other security: -
Payment Methods: CC, PayPal, Moneybookers, Epassporte, GoogleCheckout
Test Account: No
Moneyback Guarantee: 7 days
Other features: Port modification possible for OpenVPN accounts,
DD-WRT Router Mod Supported, concurrent connections are not allowed
Strong VPN TOS & Privacy Policy
p2p Allowed: No
Mass-mail Allowed: No
Personal Data Collected: IPs, personal data, browsing history, everything an ISP collects
Strong VPN Company Information
Location: USA
In business since 2006
Other Security Products: VPS, hosting, streaming media solution

Information incomplete or incorrect? Please let me know!

6 User Reviews »

  • ivan says:

    strongvpn has very bad customer service. there is nothing worst than bad vpn after-sales support. vpn is one of those things you really want technical support because it is meant to bypass certain technical difficulties. I was on a chat with the online support staff on an issue with my chromebook vpn setup and they just kept on pasting robot-like replies, installation web links and refuses to answer my question proper. in the end the staff just pasted an email to send my question to for obtaining a support ticket. seriously not worth the price. i went on to hidemyass and problem solved…

    Ease of Use
    Features
    Network & Speed
    Help & Support
    Used this VPN for (how long): less than 6 months

  • Notmyname says:

    Although StrongVpn has good customer support, they keep a history
    of your source IP address and any DCMA complaints against the strongvpn ip address assigned to you. Strong VPN seems to be eager to work with those who would compromise your identity.
    Since they keep your timestamped originating IP information on file you might as well not use the service.
    Switching servers/ip’s is a hassle. So is using their client.
    You have to launch it manually, and if you forget you’re wide open.
    Performance hits are about 30% of total bandwidth.
    I’ve been using the service for two months now.
    With the current StrongVPN privacy policy I advise against using this service if you are engaged in questionable activity.
    Otherwise, the customer service is excellent.

    Ease of Use
    Features
    Network & Speed
    Help & Support
    Used this VPN for (how long): less than 6 months

  • Martin Oldensk says:

    As I do know now, StrongVPN has logged all my internet activity and forwarded it to an investigation agency in my country WITHOUT any court order, just by request of the agency, BUT NO VALID COURT ORDER! They should consider renaming their services to WeakVPN.

    Ease of Use
    Features
    Network & Speed
    Help & Support
    Used this VPN for (how long): less than 6 months

  • XL says:

    Their protocol is that they have to call you to confirm to access it once you’ve bought it. It’s actually a pretty big hassle just to get it set up because of all the hoops you have to jump through. Wouldn’t recommend.

    Ease of Use
    Features
    Network & Speed
    Help & Support
    Used this VPN for (how long): less than 1 week

  • Jason says:

    This company stores everything from your phone number to your address. Unless you are using a VPN to get around your ISP shaping your bandwidth, this service is almost useless in protection. You may as well use your bare IP.

    Ease of Use
    Features
    Network & Speed
    Help & Support
    Used this VPN for (how long): less than 6 months

  • Jack meeney says:

    Christ, if this is true about their servers being so insecure, Ill move to another service. I found all the switiching stuff hard to deal wiwth but if the servers are so vulnerable, Im out of here.

    Thanks a lot for the heads up!

    Ease of Use
    Features
    Network & Speed
    Help & Support
    Used this VPN for (how long): more than 1 year

Write your Review

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam. No self-promotion. Just the Facts.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.

Click stars below to rate.
Ease of Use
Features
Network & Speed
Help & Support