Astrill VPN Review
Astrill VPN is a Seychelles-based VPN service launched in 2009. Apart from claiming to be number 1 in the VPN apps market for nearly a decade, Astrill VPN promises a whole lot in terms of performance, speed, privacy, and useful security features. In this Astrill VPN review, we put these claims to the test and discover just how good this VPN service actually is.
Astrill VPN apps are not much to look at. With a plain background in shades of blue, a huge on and off button, and a look that’s a bit outdated, they are not too pleasing to the eye and it mostly seems like the creators have not put too much thought into the design. However, the utter simplicity contributes to the ease of use and all apps are now highly functional, which was not the case some years ago (the mobile apps have gone through some much-needed tweaking).
You can easily switch the VPN on or off, select the desired server, choose which apps you want to protect, switch between protocols, UDP and TCP connections, and access all basic and advanced settings. Built with usability in mind, Astrill VPN may not wow you with its design, but it is perfectly easy to navigate, so you can get used to it right away.
Performance And Reliability
Astrill VPN claims to cover the entire world and that is pretty much the truth. It currently operates 330+ servers in nearly 50 world countries and the list of servers is constantly expanded. Its servers are located on 6 continents, with the majority of them in the US (nearly 150 servers). Apart from the usual locations like the UK, Switzerland, Singapore, and Hong Kong, it has chosen a couple of more exotic locations, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Egypt, and South Africa.
The speeds are quite reliable and often above average and the performance is impeccable. Thanks to the large server network, you can easily find a server nearby and enjoy high speeds. If you want your VPN to be even faster, you can get the best speeds possible with the VIP add-on. For more good news, Astrill VPN offers WebRTC and DNS leak protection, along with unlimited bandwidth and server switching.
Compatibility is one of Astrill VPN’s strong points. It offers apps for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, it works on routers, and it even provides pre-configured VPN routers of its own. While dedicated apps are available, you can configure Astrill VPN manually with the help of its easy-to-understand manual.
You can use Astrill VPN on all of your devices and the service allows as many as 5 simultaneous connections. What is important to know is that if you want to protect more than one device, you should purchase a subscription via the Astrill VPN website, as purchases made through e.g. Apple App Store allow you to use it on only one device.
So far in this Astrill VPN review, we have mentioned that it has a rather large server network, offers excellent speeds and performance, boasts great compatibility, allows up to 5 concurrent connections per account, provides unlimited bandwidth and server switching, and protects you from WebRTC and DNS leaks. Now it is time to focus on the extra features it offers.
First of all, Astrill VPN is P2P friendly, which is something torrent users are sure to appreciate. However, keep in mind that when torrenting, you should opt for either OpenVPN or StealthVPN and choose servers marked with a star.
With AES 256-bit encryption and highly secure protocols including the safest OpenVPN and excellent proprietary OpenWeb and StealthVPN protocols, Astrill VPN offers maximum security to its users. No activity logs and Bitcoin payments guarantee an extremely high level of anonymity.
Thanks to the Site And App Filter, you can easily choose which sites and apps go through the VPN connection and which of them you want to access using your real IP. The service further offers App Guard, a kind of VPN kill switch, which allows you to block Internet access for apps of your choice when your VPN connection is suddenly terminated. The smart tunneling mode is another useful feature that lets you tunnel international sites through your VPN and access local sites with your real IP.
Finally, with VPN Sharing, you can share your VPN connection from your Windows, Mac or Linux devices with other devices like smartphones and game consoles without any extra hardware or router.
While Astrill VPN generally uses shared IPs, you can purchase a dedicated IP if you need one. Furthermore, you can get the VIP add-on that provides even better speeds and allows you to enjoy greater privacy with Multi-Hop connections.
Security And Privacy
Astrill VPN uses AES 256-bit encryption and allows you to choose from a range of encryption protocols, including OpenWeb, OpenVPN, StealthVPN/RouterPRO, and Cisco IPSec. OpenVPN and StealthVPN are the preferred options since they provide maximized security. StealthVPN provides a dual layer of encryption, making it virtually undetectable, which is particularly important for users with strict Internet censorship like China.
Being based in The Republic of Seychelles, Astrill VPN is not required by law to keep any logs. It does not collect or store any personally identifiable information or monitor your online activity. It only keeps track of active sessions in order to limit the number of simultaneous connections, but this information is erased as soon as the VPN connection is terminated. In addition to this high level of anonymity, the service allows you to pay with Bitcoin, so you do not have to share any personal information at any point.
As we found out while researching for this Astrill VPN review, this is one of the rare VPN services that truly do a great job when it comes to customer support. You can get in touch with the support staff via a 24/7 live chat, contact form, email, and phone. US and Hong Kong phone numbers are available, but Chinese users should bear in mind that the operators only speak English.
In the Support section of the website, you can find information about all the ways to get in touch with the support staff, along with an extensive FAQ, setup manuals, and helpful video tutorials.
You can choose between Personal and Business subscriptions. If you opt for the Personal plan, you can get Astrill VPN protection for $30 per month with the monthly subscription, $15 per month with the annual subscription and $12.50 for a 2-year subscription. The service offers a 7-day free trial, but it is not available to Chinese users.
The Business plan comes in the form of a yearly subscription and the price depends on the number of accounts you need. It ranges from $5.25 per account per month for 10 accounts to $4.62 per account per month for 200 accounts.
If you want to enjoy optimized speeds and reduced latency along with Multi-Hop VPN for maximized anonymity, you can purchase the VIP add-on, which costs an additional $10 per month.
Dedicated, static IPs on select servers are also available and come at the price of $5 per month per address. The prices of Astrill VPN routers start at $50.
Accepted payment methods include debit and credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, American Express, Cirrus, UnionPay, JCB, and Diners, as well as bank wire transfer, PayPal, Perfect Money, Wechat Pay, AliPay, and Bitcoin.
Astrill VPN Pros & Cons
As we wrap up this Astrill VPN review, here’s a quick overview of the features that wowed us and the aspects of the service that could use some improvement.
- Easy to use
- Excellent speeds and performance
- Strong encryption
- Great compatibility
- WebRTC and DNS leak protection
- Myriad of advanced features
- 5 simultaneous connections
- Zero activity logs
- Excellent add-ons, including dedicated IPs
- Accepts Bitcoin
- 7-day free trial
- 24/7/365 live customer support
- Outdated design
- No free trial for Chinese users
- Above-average prices
Astrill is Probably Chinese Government Licensed
I have reached the conclusion that Astrill is probably approved, licensed and surveilled by the Chinese government. There are several clues.
Their website is accessible in China.
Astrill has two websites. One is blocked in China, and the other is never blocked. You can buy VPN service and even pay with Alipay. Why is every other VPN’s website blocked, but not Astrill’s?
Their service bypasses China’s internet throttling
In September, 2019, China began throttling overseas Internet traffic so badly that it was almost impossible to reach overseas websites during the afternoons and evenings (the throttling has eased up recently). ExpressVPN was also very slow as a result. Astrill, however, remained speedy; it seemed to be bypassing the throttling. At the time I was using my company’s VPN at work. It was a government licensed VPN, and it was speedy too; Licensed VPN’s appear to bypass the throttling. Why can Astrill bypass the throttling when other VPN’s cannot?
Astrill seldom updates its app
Astrill released an update to its desktop app in September, 2020. The most recent update before that was in November, 2019. Other VPN’s release frequent updates to stay ahead of the blockers. Why does Astrill not need to work hard to stay ahead of the blockers?
Overseas websites know you’re in China
When I access Bing and some other websites with ExpressVPN through a US server, I always get the American version of their website. When using Astrill, I always get the Chinese version. This happens in private mode where cookies are hidden, with regional settings set to US settings, and the system locale set to the USA. This is the case for OpenVPN, Stealth and Wireguard modes. Somehow the location is being transmitted, even though the IP address is American. This is consistent with the Chinese government’s desire for Chinese citizens to only have access to the Chinese versions of websites of foreign companies that operate in China.
They require your phone number
I have never encountered a VPN provider that requires a phone number. This permits a government to easily identify a user.
If you do not mind being surveilled, then Astrill provides a fast, reliable service. Most of your data is protected by HTTPS anyway.
I’ve been with them for several years but this may be my last. When it works it’s great, but this year I’ve experienced throttling where I get 1-5Mbps on a 1Gbps connection on ALL servers. Their customer service has gone downhill and I’ve experienced rude representative who have been pushing to upsell additional products all while avoiding to resolve any of the issues on their servers. Stay away for the moment until they can resolve some of their internal issues and hopefully they can return it to a consistent and favorable service.
I wanted to post notice that @astrillvpn has become an untrustworthy company. They apparently care about money to the point they deny they are auto-renewing subscriptions using payment on record, but are doing just that. When I questioned them, they denied it, refused to reverse the charge despite the payment not being due as of my identifying the unauthorized charge, nor would they conduct an investigation as to how the auto-charge happened. This is forcing me to actually lock my account for about 2 weeks to get a new card as they simply re-charge after every contest I push with my bank account.
Any company that takes these actions are NOT TO BE TRUSTED WITH YOUR PRIVACY as a VPN provider. If they’re willing to put money first & hope people either don’t notice or contest it, they are willing to do worse with their data. It is sad to see a company with such potential reach this point, but apart from a full leadership changeout, you cannot trust the decisions of the leaders who drove the company to this point. For this reason, I revoke my endorsement for Astrill VPN.
Lately, all of their servers have been running terribly in China. When I do finally connect, they’re slow as molasses in January. I’ve contacted them and the only thing they recommend is constantly changing from UDP to TCP and randomly changing the connection port. After 3 years, this has been the worst one yet and I think it’ll be my last. I may give ExpressVpn a shot, though I’d had a bad experience with them many years back, so could go either way.
They really need to start providing better service and much better customer service support…
Really poor customer support. BBC doesn’t work (despite a whole page on their site specifically advertising that it works with BBC) and when I pointed out to their team, they eventually conceded that the basic package won’t work with BBC. They generally have a terrible attitude and a not-great service.
Amazing security features, really reliable, good speeds, but the prices are too high, especially if you want speed optimization and multi-hop, I mean, there are other VPNs that cost much less and offer similar benefits. They should really think about lowering the prices, not everyone is willing to pay so much for a VPN, no matter how good it is.
I don’t use VPNs at home, but I went to China on business last month and everyone told me I need a VPN, because you can’t access anything there. A couple of friends who are sort of computer geeks told me Astrill is great so I took their advice (although I was really mad they don’t give Chinese people a free trial, what’s up with that?) and I tried it out at home first and it worked really well. I used it during my stay in China and there were more or less no problems, which is really rare among VPNs, according to my Chinese friends. So, I’m pretty happy with it and I may continue using it. If you need a VPN for China, it is definitely a good choice.
Did you by chance use NETFLIX through Astrill (while in China)? If so, how did NETFLIX streaming go?
The VIP add-on is ridiculously expensive, but if you want to download everything you ever wanted in a month, it’s worth it. Really good VPN overall and the guys I spoke to via live chat actually know what they’re talking about, so that’s a big plus.