ExpressVPN vs. StrongVPN Face-to-Face Comparison Review
As mentioned above, ExpressVPN and StrongVPN have several similarities, but the differences are profound. In this main segment of the article, we have compared the two VPN providers based on the essential factors considered when buying VPNs. So, without further ado, let's get into it.
The VPNs industry is one of the most flooded in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) market. There are many companies in the game, some with reliable VPNs while others are flops that are to be avoided at all costs. For guaranteed online security and privacy, and to enjoy all the benefits of VPNs, deal with renowned brands with a track record for excellent services. We did the heavy lifting for you by doing background checks on the two VPNs. So, which brand has the best reputation between ExpressVPN and StrongVPN?
Established in 2009, ExpressVPN is among the best VPN brands. It boasts over 3 million active users from around the globe. ExpressVPN is owned by Kape Technologies, the same cybersecurity powerhouse behind CyberGhost, Zenmate, and Private Internet Access (PIA).
Cybersecurity experts have praised the VPN for its state-of-the-art security and privacy. It is also a versatile VPN that opens up many entertainment opportunities. On VPN review sites, it is highly rated by users. We did thorough checks and are glad to say that this is a trusted brand.
At the time of writing, ExpressVPN commands a 4.7/5 rating on Trustpilot after over 11,000 reviews.
StrongVPN is also a reputable VPN brand with nearly two decades in business, having launched back in 2005. The company is owned by Ziff Davis, the same venture behind IP Vanish, another top-rated VPN. Just like ExpressVPN, StrongVPN is also a household name in the VPN industry.
The brand has been featured in top publications and praised by cybersecurity experts as a reliable VPN that offers military-grade security and opens avenues for entertainment. We also scoured the internet to find out what users were saying.
We are glad this VPN has positive ratings, but of course, there are a few complaints here and there, which is normal. At the time of writing, StrongVPN has a Trustpilot trust score of 4.6/5 after over 2,200 reviews.
What devices do you want to protect? This is an important question to ask yourself before narrowing down to any provider. Make sure the VPN on your wishlist can protect all your devices, be it PCs, mobile devices, routers, TVs, consoles, you name it. You don't want to buy a VPN subscription that supports your mobile and PC but is not compatible with routers consoles, and streaming devices such as Fire sticks and Smart TVs. Besides compatibility, ascertain the maximum number of simultaneous connections allowed under a single license. The idea is to go for a provider that supports the highest number of devices simultaneously.
One of the strengths of ExpressVPN is its versatility. It is compatible with all connected devices. For example, you can protect your PC, be it a Windows, Linux, or macOS PC. There are also browser extensions for Firefox, Edge, and Chrome.
This VPN is also compatible with iOS and Android mobile devices. ExpressVPN’s compatibility goes beyond PCs and mobile devices. It can also be used with routers, smart TVs, Apple TVs, PlayStation, Nintendo, Xbox, Boxxee, and so on. The configuration process varies depending on the device.
When it comes to the maximum number of simultaneous connections, ExpressVPN can protect up to 5 devices at a go.
StrongVPN is also a great deal when it comes to the devices it is compatible with. It works with all PCs, from Windows and Ubuntu to Linux and macOS. Also worth mentioning is the Chrome extension.
There are also apps for Android, iOS, Nokia Symbian, and Nokia Maemo. You can also rely on this VPN to protect other devices, including select routers, Kodi, HP WebOS devices, Amazon Fire, PlayStation, Smart TVs, Xbox, you name it. Here again, the configuration varies depending on the device at hand.
When it comes to the number of devices, StrongVPN is the best choice as it can protect up to 12 devices simultaneously.
The next thing to consider is the VPN's usability. Regardless of your user level, you want a user-friendly VPN with an intuitive interface and straightforward navigation. In addition, the registration process should be simple, and so is the VPN configuration. The usability of VPNs varies. Some are easy to use, while others have cluttered interfaces, lengthy registration, and complex configuration processes. Obviously, you want to buy one with excellent usability. So, which of the two providers wins this battle? Is it ExpressVPN or StrongVPN?
It’s pretty simple to get started with ExpressVPN. The first step is to click the ‘Get Started’ button. The system will redirect to the order section where you need to purchase a subscription.
Then, download the ExpressVPN software, sign in using your email and password or verification, and you are good to go. The dashboard is pretty intuitive, and the navigation is straightforward.
On our usability scale, ExpressVPN scores 4.5/5.
StrongVPN also has excellent usability. You can start enjoying online security and privacy in minutes.
The first step of getting started is clicking the ‘Join Now’ button, redirecting you to the plans page. Select a plan that works for you, and checkout.
The next action will be downloading StrongVPN and signing in. This VPNs interface is also intuitive and navigation seamless. On our usability scale, StrongVPN scores 4.4/5.
VPNs work by encrypting the data you send to the internet resource so no other eyes can see your online activity. Encryption technologies have evolved. Today, the industry standard is Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit. This is a military-grade encryption technology that is impenetrable. It would take millions of years to perform brute force attacks on systems secure using AES 256-bit encryption. So, do the two VPNs have a 256-bit key, the industry-standard, as the encryption technology?
As one of the top VPNs on the market, ExpressVPN relies on military-grade AES 256-bit keys for encryption. As mentioned above, this is the industry standard.
AES 256-bit is so secure that even the most powerful computers would take millions of years to break into systems with this encryption technology. It is complemented by RSA-4096 as the handshake option, while SHA-512 hashing handles authentication.
One great feature of this VPN is the DH exchange, which takes security a notch higher by generating new keys every hour.
Just like ExpressVPN, StrongVPN also leverages AES-256-CBC channel encryption in IPSec and OpenVPN protocols, while in WireGuard, StrongVPN uses ChaCha20 channel encryption, and several other state-of-the-art cryptography.
AES 256-bit is the most secure protocol that guarantees uptight security now that it is practically impossible to perform a brute force attack on systems with this encryption technology.
When it comes to authentication, you can use SHA256 authentication, SHA512 authentication, or poly1305 authentication, depending on the protocol you are using.
Besides encryption, the other important aspect to discuss is the VPN protocols supported. Also known as tunneling methods, these are rules implemented when routing traffic. VPN protocols are highly specialized, so several types are available. That said, the more protocols a VPN supports, the more versatile it is. So, the big question is, what protocols do ExpressVPN and StrongVPN support?
One advantage of ExpressVPN is that it supports many security protocols, otherwise known as tunneling methods. This makes it one of the most versatile VPNs around.
The 8 supported protocols are PPTP, SSTP, L2TP, IKEv2, OpenVPN, WireGuard, IPSec, and Lightway. Open VPN is the industry standard, while Lightway is a proprietary protocol engineered by ExpressVPN.
It is specialized to offer fast speeds, utmost security, and efficiency in terms of battery consumption.
StrongVPN, on the other hand, supports 4 protocols; IKEv2, WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IPSec. IKEv2 is great for those looking for security and speeds.
It is based on IPSec, an older and less secure protocol.
Besides IPSec and IKEv2, there’s OpenVPN, a widely-adopted SSL VPN, and WireGuard, a new protocol that leverages state-of-the-art cryptography for enhanced security and fast speeds.
A VPN's security doesn't end with encryption and tunneling methods (protocols). Several other features beef up security and ensure you remain anonymous on the web. Some VPNs have just the basic security extras, talk of leak protection and kill switch, while others have sophisticated security extras, including multi hopping and split tunneling, among others. In this segment, check out the security extras that ExpressVPN and StrongVPN have.
ExpressVPN tags along with several security extras. First is the Network Lock Switch, a feature that disconnects your devices from the internet immediately after the VPN connection drops. This way, your data will be intact.
There’s also WebRTC and DNS leak protection, which, as the name suggests, prevents WebRTC and DNS leaks. Another great feature is Split Tunneling which lets you decide which traffic to route via the VPN and which one to connect directly without the VPN bridge.
Also worth mentioning is encrypted private DNS, which ensures your DNS requests remain private.
StrongVPN is also well endowed when it comes to security extras. It also comes with an internet kill switch that disconnects devices from the internet when the VPN connection is lost.
Unfortunately, this feature is available only on desktop apps and on OpenVPN or L2TP protocols. There’s also DNS and WebRTC leak prevention, so you can always surf the web without any worries about your data leaking. However, in our tests, we found some DNS leaks, so StrongVPN doesn’t guarantee 100% security. Another great feature is Scramble, an obfuscation feature that enables this VPN to bypass China’s Great Firewall.
Last is StrongDNS, an easy-to-use proxy for enhanced security and fast speeds.
7. Privacy & Confidentiality (Jurisdiction)
You may be wondering what a VPN's location has to do with a VPN's performance, particularly matters privacy and confidentiality. Well, with the rise of global surveillance alliances such as 5-Eyes, 9-Eyes, and 14 Eyes and governments that don't respect privacy laws, VPNs are under constant pressure to share data with the authorities. However, VPNs in privacy-friendly countries not part of alliances have no obligation to share your data. Others, for example, Romania, champion for online privacy.
ExpressVPN is located in the British Virgin Islands, a jurisdiction not part of any surveillance organizations.
That means your data and entire digital footprint are not under any compromise.
Besides, the British Virgin Islands is a privacy-friendly country that endeavors to protect the privacy of its citizens.
On the other hand, StrongVPN is based in the United States, a country that is an active member of the 5-Eyes, 9-Eyes, and 14-Eyes alliances.
Well, this should be a reason to think twice before buying StrongVPN, considering the fact the provider is obligated to cooperate with the authorities if need be.
The US Senate passed a bill allowing the FBI to access citizens’ browsing history without a search warrant. This is one area where StrongVPN fails.
8. Privacy & Confidentiality (Log Policy)
The logging policy goes hand in hand with the jurisdiction. They both determine the level of privacy and confidentiality of VPNs. While all VPNs claim that they don't keep logs, some have been caught pants down logging users' activity and worse, personally identifiable data. You can be easily tracked if your online footprint is logged, so the VPN will be useless. In this segment, we have compared the logging policy of these two VPN providers and their credibility.
ExpressVPN is a no-log VPN that keeps no logs of any data that can be used to track or profile you. While many VPNs promise not to keep logs but ultimately log your activity, ExpressVPN’s no-log policy is credible.
In one instance, when the FBI raided its servers, no data was found. Also worth mentioning is TrustedServer, a technology that leverages RAM-only servers.
The advantage of RAM-only servers is that they wipe all data with every boot.
Even though StrongVPN is in a jurisdiction that is part of the leading global surveillance organizations, we are glad it insists that it’s a no-log VPN.
The company claims that it collects only your details for billing and account creation; all your digital footprint remains private. One great thing about this VPN is that it owns all its servers; no 3rd party server providers are involved.
But considering its sister company, IP Vanish, has been embroiled in a case where it led Homeland Security to a suspect using a Comcast IP address, you might want to think twice.
9. Server Network and Distribution
At the core of a VPN's infrastructure is the server network which can be the deal maker or breaker. The best VPN is one with the highest number of servers. And it's not just the number of servers; the distribution is also essential. The servers should be spread around the globe, in different top cities and locations. Besides the server network and distribution, it's also worth assessing the servers' specialization. Go for a VPN with specialized servers for applications such as streaming, P2P sharing, and servers for China.
One of the major strengths of ExpressVPN is its vast network of state-of-the-art servers. The provider operates over 3,000 servers in 94 countries.
They are in over 160 locations and cities in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Oceania, and Africa. While most of these servers are physical servers, the VPN is expanding its list of virtual servers to enhance reliability. As mentioned earlier, ExpressVPN deploys RAM-only servers, with over 70% of them being 10Gbps servers for the fastest speeds.
Furthermore, ExpressVPN Smart Location automatically picks for you the fastest servers depending on your region and critical metrics such as download speed and latency. For the record, each of these servers has a private DNS.
StrongVPN may not be the best VPN in terms of server network and distribution. It has around 950 VPN servers in over 30 countries.
However, the servers are not in as many locations as ExpressVPN, meaning users from some regions may be limited in terms of speeds and reliability. Remember, the closer you are to a server, the better the overall performance.
The servers are not as fast as ExpressVPN’s but offer decent speeds when connected to a nearby server. It also has specialized servers for streaming, P2P-sharing, and has the ‘Best Location’ feature that also connects you to the best available servers.
10. Streaming, Torrenting, and Gaming
VPNs have several other applications in the entertainment scene. Today, there are VPNs for streaming. They are engineered to unblock Netflix and other streaming sites reliably. You can also rely on them to torrent and share huge files without the risk of bandwidth throttling by ISPs. VPNs are also used in gaming, where they are used to access geo-blocked gaming discounts and gaming content, for example, new maps. But not all VPNs are up for these tasks.
If you are into streaming, ExpressVPN will be a good match. We thoroughly tested it on the streaming-friendly servers, and it managed to unblock several Netflix libraries.
And it’s not just Netflix; we are glad that it unblocked several other streaming sites, including Hulu, DAZN, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, and CBS, among others.
When it comes to torrenting, ExpressVPN doesn’t disappoint. It has servers optimized for torrenting and P2P sharing that perform exceptionally. At no time did we experience bandwidth throttling.
This VPN is also suitable for gamers as it’s robust enough to keep DDoS attacks at bay. Gamers can also access geo-restricted gaming content and discounts without a problem.
StrongVPN is also reliable when it comes to unblocking streaming sites with geo-restricted content, though not as reliably as ExpressVPN. In our tests, it unblocked several Netflix libraries except for Netflix Japan.
As for Hulu, BBC iPlayer, DAZN, CBS, Amazon Prime, and most of the other streaming sites, it had a high success rate of unblocking them.
Regarding torrenting and P2P sharing, we didn’t have any problems except for a few sessions when the speeds dropped significantly, but all in all, StrongVPN is a reliable VPN for torrenting.
Last on gaming. This VPN can prevent DDoS attacks and allow gamers to access geo-restricted gaming content.
The level of customer support should be an essential consideration when buying a VPN. This is regardless of how well versed you are with VPNs. You may be an expert, but you may not be able to sort out billing and some technical malfunctions. On the other hand, newbies might use some help from the VPN's support when stuck. In this round of this ExpressVPN vs. StrongVPN comparison review, find out the support options these VPN providers avail and their resourcefulness.
ExpressVPN understands that customer is king, and that’s why it has invested in a robust multichannel customer support infrastructure. You can reach the team via the 24/7 live chat for immediate feedback on most basic issues. Besides live chat, ExpressVPN has provided an email address and has a help center with a knowledgebase, guides, and answers to frequently asked questions.
StrongVPN also boasts multichannel support. The best option is the 24/7 live chat which also offers immediate feedback. An AI-assisted bot also offers solutions to the common issues users raise. Another channel is telephone support. Though the agents are not available 24/7, feedback is also immediate. StrongVPN also has an email, guides, and an FAQ section.
12. Plans, Pricing, Payment Options
Lastly, we will look at one important aspect: plans and pricing. Find out the available ExpressVPN and StrongVPN plans and how much the subscriptions cost. Besides plans and pricing, check out if there is a free version of these two software, a free trial, and a money-back guarantee. We have also assessed the available payment options. So, let's get into it.
ExpressVPN is an expensive VPN; as mentioned earlier, it supports a maximum of 5 connections. There is no freemium version of the software or a free trial, but new users can take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee.
Regarding the available plans, there are three; a 1-month plan at $12.95 per month billed monthly, a 6-months plan at $9.99 billed every six months, and a 12-months plan at $8.32 per month billed every 12 months.
The available payment options include Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, Discover, JCB, PayPal, UnionPay, QIWI, iDEAL, Sofort Banking, GiroPay, and Bitcoin.
StrongVPN, on the other hand, is cheaper and allows for more simultaneous connections, but just like ExpressVPN, there is no StrongVPN free version or free trial.
Instead, the company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on the annual plan. Talking of plans, there are only two; a 1-month plan at $10.99 billed monthly and a 12-months plan at $3.66 monthly, billed annually.
Regarding the available payment options, this VPN has partnered with Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, PayPal, and Alipay.