Thunder VPN review: Is this free VPN service worth it?

Last updated: September 29, 2021

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
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • User-friendly interface
  • Servers located worldwide

Thunder VPN cons

  • Invasive logging policy
  • Outdated encryption
  • 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.

Internet speed without a VPN

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.

Download and upload speeds with Thunder VPN

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.

YouTube buffering with Thunder VPN

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:

 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 not working with 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:

Thunder VPN terms of service

And further down the page:

Thunder VPN usage policy

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:

Thunder VPN features

However, its terms of service says otherwise:

User data that Thunder VPN collects

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.

Device compatibility

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.

Customer support

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 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.

Price

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.

Ad from using Thunder VPN

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.

Summary

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.

Leading Thunder VPN alternatives

If you’re only using a VPN for light browsing, then Thunder VPN offers a decent solution. But if you’re looking for something with more security and features, we recommend the following VPN providers.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN homepage

ExpressVPN is a top-rated VPN with over 3,000 servers across 94 countries.

This VPN service secures your data with AES-256 bit encryption and supports modern protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard.

Other features include a kill switch, private DNS servers, and support for all major platforms. ExpressVPN also works with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and more.

In our ExpressVPN review, we hit an impressive 60.9 Mbps download speed, and 17.6 Mbps upload speed, making this the fastest VPN that we’ve tested.

ExpressVPN speed tests

While ExpressVPN doesn’t offer a free plan like Thunder VPN, the company does provide a 30-day money-back guarantee for its paid VPN.

ExpressVPN Pricing:

ExpressVPN offers three plans:

  • $12.95 per month for one month
  • $9.99 per month for six months
  • $8.32 per month for 12 months

ExpressVPN pricing

2. NordVPN

NordVPN homepage

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.

NordVPN speed tests

This VPN service supports all major devices, so you can secure your internet traffic no matter what device you’re using.

NordVPN Pricing:

NordVPN offers three plans:

  • $11.95 per month for one month
  • $4.92 per month for one year
  • $3.71 per month for two years

NordVPN pricing

3. UltraVPN

UltraVPN homepage

UltraVPN is relatively new to the VPN scene, having launched in 2018. But they’ve since managed to build up an impressive global VPN network of high-speed servers.

This VPN provider uses AES-256 encryption and the highly secure OpenVPN protocol to secure your VPN connection. It also offers built-in malware and phishing protection to keep you safe.

In our UltraVPN review, we hit a respectable 32.3 Mbps download, and 16.3 Mbps upload speed.

UltraVPN speed tests

A single subscription lets you secure up to six devices at once.

UltraVPN Pricing:

UltraVPN offers three plans:

  • $6.99 per month for one month
  • $4.99 per month for six months
  • $2.99 per month for 12 months

 UltraVPN pricing

Conclusion

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.

It sounds appealing on the surface, but there are some major caveats — it uses an outdated encryption protocol, has a sketchy privacy policy, and has poor performance.

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.

Published on: August 20, 2021