Companies aim to collect as much personal information about you as possible — including the websites you visit, the social media platforms you use, etc.
While most companies claim to use your data to deliver “better experiences,” that typically translates to receiving highly personalized ads you might not be comfortable with.
Worse, some companies share or even sell your data without your consent. So, how can you protect your privacy online? And how can you keep your browsing activities secure?
Using a Virtual Private Network is a good start.
When searching for VPNs, you may have come across Thunder VPN — a free mobile VPN that promises to let you browse safely and securely.
But is Thunder VPN any good? Is it “worth” it?
In this in-depth review of Thunder VPN, we’ll look at everything this VPN has to offer, including how it performs, the platforms it supports, and more. We’ll also look at other leading alternatives on the market if you decide this VPN isn’t for you.
First, let’s look at why you need a VPN and different use cases for one.
Do you need a VPN?
The short answer is yes.
A VPN is software that adds a layer of protection to your online activities. It creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the internet, making it virtually impossible for anyone to see what you’re doing.
A VPN essentially acts as a middleman.
When you connect to a VPN, you’re routing your traffic through a private server via an encrypted connection. This also hides your IP address — a unique set of numbers that others can use to track your location.
Even if you have “nothing to hide,” there are plenty of reasons you should use a VPN. Here are just a few use cases for VPNs.
Browse public Wi-Fi networks securely
Public Wi-Fi networks are convenient, but they’re not safe.
Hackers can intercept your communications and even use unsecured connections to distribute malware. That puts your personal information at risk if you log in to your email or check your bank accounts.
A VPN encrypts your browsing activities. So even if someone is snooping on your connection, all they’ll see is scrambled text.
Bypass internet restrictions when traveling
Some countries have strict internet restrictions. For example, the Great Firewall of China heavily censors the internet and blocks certain websites like Facebook.
If you’re traveling to China (or another country with similar restrictions), you may not be able to access the sites or services you normally visit.
With a VPN, you can connect to a server in a country with no restrictions. Even if you’re in China, a VPN allows you to “change” your location. It’ll appear as though you’re accessing the web from a different location.
Unblock streaming services
Streaming services like Netflix have geo-restrictions in place due to licensing terms. Unfortunately, that means you may not be able to watch your favorite shows if you travel abroad.
A VPN lets you bypass these geo-restrictions. If you travel to Europe and want to watch a show exclusive to U.S. audiences, you can simply connect to a server in the U.S. The streaming service then believes that you’re in that country and unlocks the library.
Maintain personal privacy
Companies and advertisers aren’t the only ones interested in your data. Your internet service provider (ISP) also collects and sells your data to third parties.
In an investigation by Motherboard, a hacker pinpointed a phone’s location within a few hundred meters based on real-time location data that T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T sold.
Using a VPN helps you maintain personal privacy and prevents your ISP from tracking your online activities (which they’ve been known to sell).
In short, you absolutely need a VPN because it secures and anonymizes your traffic. Now let’s dive into our in-depth review of Thunder VPN.
Thunder VPN review: Is this mobile VPN worth it?
Thunder VPN is a free VPN for iOS and Android devices with a simple setup process. Features like data encryption and unlimited bandwidth make this VPN appealing, but they come at a cost.
Thunder VPN pros:
No registration required
Servers located worldwide
Thunder VPN cons
Invasive logging policy
No torrenting support
No kill switch
Only available on iOS and Android devices
Speed and performance
Regardless of how you plan to use a VPN, you want one that offers great performance. If a VPN significantly slows down your internet connection, you’ll be less inclined to use it.
First, we conducted a speed test on our device to establish an initial baseline. With a VPN off, our download speed was 43.8 Mbps, and our upload speed was 19.5 Mbps.
Next, we downloaded Thunder VPN from the Google Play Store and installed it on our Android device.
We then connected to a server in the U.S., but we had to watch a short ad (one of the downsides of using a free VPN). Then we ran the speed test again.
With Thunder VPN on, we hit a download speed of 3.28 Mbps and an upload speed of 13.3 Mbps.
Our download speed decreased by an astounding 92.5%, while our upload speed decreased by 31.8%.
Watching videos on YouTube was fine on a lower resolution. But higher-resolution videos kept buffering, as indicated by the loading circle shown here.
Thunder VPN claims it offers a “lightning-fast app,” but our tests show otherwise.
The Android app was easy to use, and it took only a few moments to connect to a VPN server. However, we weren’t too impressed with its performance.
Here’s a list of servers that Thunder VPN offers:
Thunder VPN also has “faster servers” in Japan, India, Hong Kong, and Ireland, but these are locked behind a premium subscription.
Streaming and torrenting
If you intend to use the Thunder VPN app to unblock streaming services, you’re out of luck. In our testing, Thunder VPN couldn’t unblock Netflix.
Thunder VPN also didn’t unblock Hulu or Disney+.
If streaming is a must-have, you’ll need to consider other alternatives. We recommend using ExpressVPN or NordVPN, as connecting to any of their servers will allow you to unblock popular streaming services.
Thunder VPN does support torrenting, but it’s not safe. Here’s what its terms of service says:
And further down the page:
If you torrent copyrighted materials, Thunder VPN could terminate your account and even hold you legally responsible.
For torrenting, we recommend ExpressVPN. Every server from this VPN provider supports peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing.
Security and privacy
VPNs create a secure tunnel between your device and the internet, but how they do that depends on the protocols they use.
Thunder VPN uses the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol to encrypt your data. Unfortunately, the SSL protocol is outdated, meaning it’s not as secure as more modern protocols like OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, and Wireguard.
There’s also no kill switch — a feature that automatically disconnects your internet if your connection drops. This means your IP address will be exposed if your VPN connection suddenly disconnects.
Thunder VPN claims that it doesn’t track or log user data:
However, its terms of service says otherwise:
That’s a lot of personal information.
In its terms of service, Thunder VPN states that it may store your data on a third-party server or use a third-party analytics tool to understand how customers use the service.
SigLabs, a company based in Arkansas, owns Thunder VPN. That puts it within the Five Eyes Jurisdiction — an information-sharing alliance between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Thunder VPN is required by law to turn over any information they have on you, which is quite a lot just based on its terms of service.
If you’re concerned about online privacy, it’s strongly recommended you choose a VPN that’s based in privacy-friendly countries with no data-retention laws.
We recommend ExpressVPN here, as it has a strict no-logs policy that PwC has independently verified.
When asked to turn over records on a customer, ExpressVPN couldn’t comply simply because it didn’t have them.
Thunder VPN is only available on Android and iOS devices. This may not be a problem if you primarily browse the web from a mobile device.
However, if you want to use a VPN to encrypt traffic for devices like desktops, laptops, gaming consoles, and streaming boxes, we don’t recommend Thunder VPN.
Thunder VPN offers limited support. There’s an FAQ section in the app, but it’s not really helpful.
Here’s an example of Thunder VPN’s FAQ page.
Thunder VPN doesn’t offer live chat, and there’s no contact number on its website. To get in touch with support, you can submit feedback through the app and leave your email address.
Thunder VPN is available for free, but you’ll get an ad whenever you connect or disconnect from a server.
Here’s an ad that popped up when we disconnected.
You can disable ads and access more servers by upgrading to a premium plan.
Pricing for Thunder VPN is as follows:
$5.99 per week
$9.99 per month
$59.99 per year
With how much a paid plan costs, you’re better off with safer and more secure alternatives, like ExpressVPN.
Thunder VPN offers a free VPN with unlimited bandwidth. It took less than a minute to install, and there was no need to configure anything. Even with the free version, you have access to a wide range of servers.
However, it’s hard to recommend this VPN — it offers poor performance, uses outdated encryption protocols, and has an invasive logging policy. We also found that Thunder VPN doesn’t unblock Netflix and Hulu.
NordVPN is another highly recommended VPN, offering a user-friendly interface and strong security features that protect your privacy online.
NordVPN operates over 5,400 private servers in 59 countries. The Quick Connect feature instantly connects you to the fastest server based on your location.
Other features include a verified no-logs policy, unlimited bandwidth, Onion Over VPN, split tunneling, P2P file transfers, and 24/7 live chat support.
In our NordVPN review, our test connection hit 48.5 Mbps download speed, and 17.7 Mbps upload speed — slightly slower download speeds than ExpressVPN, but still fast enough to handle any online activity.
This VPN service supports all major devices, so you can secure your internet traffic no matter what device you’re using.
Thunder VPN offers a free VPN with unlimited bandwidth. It’s available on the Google Play Store for Android devices and the Apple App Store for iOS devices.
If you only plan to use a VPN for low-stakes browsing, Thunder VPN offers an adequate solution. But if you’re concerned about your privacy and want to be sure that your online activities are protected, then we recommend ExpressVPN.