Thunder VPN boasts of having 5+ million downloads from the Google Play store. But is there anything to this popularity?
In this Thunder VPN review, I will take an in-depth look at this service and try to answer some critical questions. Does it have secure encryption? Will it unblock Netflix or allow torrenting? Finally, should you depend on it for your privacy?
Here’s what this primarily-free tool has to offer.
Security and privacy features
This is all you will learn on their website when it comes to their security features:
As you can see, this list is not full of security and privacy features. Instead, there are several typos and some broken grammar.
Encryption and tunneling protocols
Information about Thunder VPN encryption is scarce. I had to read the FAQ on their Android app. From this FAQ, I have learned that Thunder VPN uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), an outdated protocol, for establishing an encrypted link between you and your destination.
Kill switch and DNS/IP leaks
Thunder VPN has no kill switch of its own, so you will have to rely on Android’s native Always-On VPN feature.
Yet perhaps the more important issue is that this service is susceptible to DNS leaks. The screenshot below shows the VPN IP, but also the IP of our real DNS in Belgium.
That means you’re not hiding your activities from your ISP when using Thunder VPN.
Does Thunder VPN keep logs?
“We are committed to your privacy and do not collect or log traffic data or browsing activity from individual users connected to our VPN.”
But never be satisfied with what you hear, i.e., “no logging” claims. Read on to learn more.
“When you register on the site, you will be asked to provide certain personal information, including your billing and e-mail address and payment information.”
You cannot register on the site, and you don’t need to provide any information when installing the Thunder VPN Android app. Then, the legal document informs you that “you may access and change your personal information by logging into the Site.” Once again, there’s no way to log in anywhere on the website, or rather, webpage.
But this is not all. It gets worse, much worse. Here’s list of sensitive data they “may collect” when you use the app:
- IP address
- Internet Service Provider
- OS version
- language of the device
- app identifier
- app version
- independent device identifier
- ad identifier
- device manufacturer and model
- email address
- the time zone
- the network state
- times when connected to the VPN service
- choice of server location
- the total amount of data transferred per day
This isn’t really what you’d expect from a VPN. This feels more like when you’re not using a VPN to protect your privacy. And it couldn’t be any other way because the app shows personalized third-party adds.
Speed: is Thunder VPN lightning-fast?
Frankly, we were impressed with the fast connection times. In 2-3 seconds, you can connect to any of the 9 servers. That’s pretty good.
On the negative side, though, our free version VPN speed tests weren’t that impressive. Before launching Thunder VPN, we had these baseline speeds:
- Download speed: 46 Mbps
- Upload speed: 43 Mbps
- Ping: 3 ms
Then, we connected to most of the servers to see if one would break the pattern of almost identical low speeds. Here’s what we found.
- Download: 2 Mbps (95% drop-off)
- Upload: 17 Mbps (60% drop-off)
- Ping: 175 ms
The result is practically identical in all the locations we tried (with only the ping fluctuating)
These are terrible speeds; well, at least, the download speeds are. Here are the results using Premium servers:
- Download: 12 Mbps (73% drop-off)
- Upload: 4 Mbps (90% drop-off)
- Ping: 211 ms
- Download: 16 Mbps (65% drop-off)
- Upload: 3 Mbps (93% drop-off)
- Ping: 44 ms
- Download: 16 Mbps (65% drop-off)
- Upload: 11 Mbps (74% drop-off)
- Ping: 69 ms
Interestingly, the upload speeds were better on their free version, whereas the download speeds were better on their premium version. Either way, these aren’t great results. Yet they do make it possible to stream videos on YouTube and (some) other media centers. With their premium plan, full HD streaming quality is possible should you be willing to invest.
Does Thunder VPN support my device?
Thunder VPN is only available for Android. The app itself is pretty easy to install and use.
Thunder VPN app for Android
After you launch the Android app for the first time, you have to accept the Terms of Service. Then, you need to okay the Connection request. Tap OK.
This request reveals that Thunder VPN will “monitor network traffic,” which is not what we read in the policy. But you have to tap OK to move on anyway.
Finally, you get to the Home screen. All you need to do is tap the Connect button to connect to the fastest server for your location.
If, however, you want to choose any of the 9 server locations, tap the Thunder icon in the upper right corner. From there it’s also possible to select “Free” or “Fastest servers” which is really a different name for their premium subscription ones.
We do, however, like the idea that you need a single tap to change your location. No need for disconnecting separately. Unfortunately, not all of these 9 locations will provide you with the IP you’re expecting. We discovered that while being connected to the Netherlands server, our IP leak test showed a French IP somehow.
The same was true for the Japan server, which results in a Beijing, China IP instead. This is potentially very problematic given that China is one of the worst countries for your privacy.
Because it’s a free app, there’s also a steady flow of annoying third-party ads after launching the app, connecting, and disconnecting.
You need to be cautious where you tap if you don’t want to load questionable websites or accidentally install potentially useless apps.
Netflix and other streaming services
Many VPN providers have failed against Netflix’s VPN-blocking measures – even big names. So it was a surprise that you can stream Netflix using Thunder VPN. We’ve managed to access US Netflix and stream the US-exclusive first two seasons of Twin Peaks:
Mind you that it’s only possible with their premium subscription. With free servers you’ll get the infamous proxy error:
On a more positive note though, we were surprised that this VPN can stream BBC iPlayer.
Although the download speeds are very low, we also managed to stream YouTube videos on 1080p.
Does Thunder VPN support torrenting?
We can confirm that Thunder VPN works with BitTorrent; however, with such privacy, you would be shooting yourself in the leg. This VPN service keeps all your personal information that can identify you and your physical location. And, there’s the thing with logging… do the math. If you don’t want to get DMCA complaints and fines, better look elsewhere.
If you want an anonymous tool, why not check out our list of best VPNs for torrenting?
Does Thunder VPN work in China?
With the kind of security and anonymity Thunder VPN has, we wouldn’t dare to risk using it anywhere really, least of all China. But, if you’re a resident or traveler beyond the Great Firewall of China, you may want to read about our best VPN for China picks.
Our Thunder VPN review was not able to find any type of customer support whatsoever.
It’s not just that there’s no live chat support on the official website, but there’s no related FAQ page or Help page either.
As we mentioned before, the only FAQs you can read are in the Thunder VPN Android app. Those few questions won’t get you too far, though. So, that’s a big downside as you could easily have technical issues when using a VPN.
Pricing: is Thunder VPN worth it?
The basic app is “free forever,” however, there are pricing plans that give you access to their premium servers.
This means that you’re able to choose “Free” and three different pricing plans that remove nasty third party ads.
All things considered, they’re asking a hefty price for the product that isn’t that great and only provides an app for Android.
Should you get Thunder VPN?
Concluding our Thunder VPN review, we must say that its premium service is subpar, whereas the free version is just not worth the hassle. The level of online security and privacy Thunder VPN offers for both plans is ridiculous in 2020. We can’t trust this provider to take care of our anonymity. And you should think twice, too.
If you have nothing to lose and want to access geo-blocked content, by all means, try Thunder VPN. Otherwise, forget it and get a proper premium VPN for the best possible protection.