Last update: 11.26.2018
The number of servers is one of the first things you will see on any VPN provider’s Home page. To be fair, that’s a good start most of the time as you will be able to determine if the VPN is one of the big players or not. And while it is true that the more servers you have, the less likely it is that all of them will get blocked by Netflix or the Great Firewall of China, Astrill shows what can be done with a limited server count (it doesn’t take long to scroll down to the end of the Astrill server list).
How big is the Astrill server list?
If you put all VPNs in line and ask the one with the highest number of servers to step up, Astrill would probably hide behind the back of NordVPN or TorGuard. While the former has 5000+ and the latter has 3000+, with just 322 servers Astrill’s network is more than ten times smaller.
Some users might start doubting our math skills before logging in, as the sum of all servers listed on Astrill’s website is 307. And most would again doubt their own math skills after logging in because the Astrill server list is noticeably shorter compared to the one displayed on the website. For example, Astrill.com states there are 18 servers in Dallas when you can choose only four.
We contacted the support, and they kindly explained the difference between these Astrill server lists. What you see on the website is their server list and what you get in the client is the server location list. All servers are grouped for load balancing, meaning there are 14 sub-servers behind those 4 Dallas ‘servers’ you see in your client list. What is more, the website’s Astrill server list mentions only those servers that can be reached using common protocols like OpenVPN or L2TP/IPSec. There are other servers, dedicated to their in-house OpenWeb and StealthVPN protocols, seen only on the client list. Finally, there are VIP VPN servers for $10/month (providing a serious speed boost, especially in the Asian region). So while the first impression can be negative, it’s not as bad as it seems.
The number of countries on the Astrill server list
When we speak about the server spread, Astrill does a pretty good job. Their network has entangled most of the globe, with servers in 63 countries (in line with Nord’s 62 and Tor’s 50+).
Astrill assures that all their servers are physical and usually on 1Gbit or 10Gbit lines. Over 40% of them are in the USA, with only Japan, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom having more than 10 servers each. This should give you an idea about Astrill’s presence in Asia, which is disproportionately big compared to other top VPNs.
Astrill VPN Server Distribution
NordVPN has 91% of its servers in the Americas and Europe, 9% in the Asia Pacific (4% in Asia), and only 1% in Africa, the Middle East, and India. In contrast, Astrill VPN has only 72% in the Americas and Europe combined, showing a less centralized approach. Not incidentally, their Asia Pacific server percentage is way higher – 24%. Excluding Australia and New Zealand, 21% of Astrill’s servers reside in Asia. This means a five times bigger presence in the region, regardless of what the total number of servers says. Only the regions of Africa, the Middle East and India are under-represented by Astrill, comprising less than 0.5% of their total server count.
But is there a connection between these percentages and the actual download and upload speed each VPN shows? We’re about to find out.
Speeds compared: Astrill VPN vs NordVPN
Astrill VPN vs NordVPN in Europe and North America
For this comparison, we decided to check the nominal speeds using fast.com – Netflix’s own speed testing service which should show you if your connection is good enough to stream their content and what video quality you can expect.
Our no-VPN speed average in Europe was 70 Mbps with 87 Mbps at the peak. Starting with Canada, Astrill VPN gave us 43 Mbps while NordVPN showed 30 Mbs. Going down into the US, the average of 5 servers across the country was 53 Mbps compared to Nord’s 33 Mbps.
After crossing the Atlantic back into Europe, Astrill VPN met us with an absurd average of 60 Mbps while NordVPN had it around 55 Mbps.
Astrill VPN servers are very fast in Europe and North America, but more of them are needed to fight the geo-blocking effectively.
So what does this all mean in the context of Netflix and overall speed? While both services are fast enough to stream UHD from US servers, NordVPN is on the very margins of the recommended 25 Mbps for maximum video quality. And the last thing we want to mention in case of Netflix and other region-limited content – the more servers you have, the less likely it is that all of them will be banned by the service provider. Therefore, it’s good to remember the old saying – a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Astrill VPN vs NordVPN in Asia
Almost one out of four Astrill servers are in Asia, while NordVPN or CyberGhost have less than 5%. This shows that Astrill has made a serious investment in this region and is not planning on losing that position. So if you’re in Asia and especially in China, it’s probably better to be Astrill’s client, at least speed-wise. And these are not empty promises; we base our words on speed test results made for our Astrill in China review.
We tested NordVPN vs Astrill VPN from Europe using Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea as our locations. NordVPN’s best result was 26 Mbps downloading speed. Astrill VPN showed why it’d been a number one VPN in China (and probably Asia) for so long: the download speed was 43 Mbps, which is 40% faster than what Nord gave us.
NordVPN, Hong Kong, Taiwan Mobile server
Astrill VPN, Taiwan, Taiwan Mobile server
Astrill VPN vs NordVPN in Africa, the Middle East, and India
While the server numbers speak for themselves, one must not forget another crucial figure – the total number of users – it has a profound effect on traffic and bandwidth. If the top VPNs have ten times more users, naturally they need ten times more servers. This means Astrill VPN connection will not necessarily be slower just because they don’t have thousands of servers. In fact, our tests with Netflix and general speed have shown that Astrill beats the top dogs in more than one location. Of course, speed itself depends a lot on the ISP, the OS, and other factors, but counting the percentage of original speed retained, Astrill VPN really whips the llama’s ass.
To show this, we did another test with servers in the African, Middle-eastern, and Indian regions, where Astrill has four times fewer servers both in the total count and two times less percentage-wise. Israel, South Africa, and India were chosen as the countries to represent the region.
No VPN, test from Europe
87 Mbps of download and 92 Mbps of upload is something no VPN provider will beat, regardless of the kind of network it has.
NordVPN, test from Israel
26 Mbps and 17 Mbps – adequate numbers that you wouldn’t expect but wouldn’t be shocked to see. After all, you’re connecting to a location more than 3,000 km away.
Astrill VPN, test from Israel
28 Mbps and 21 Mbps – a nice pair that looks more balanced compared to Nord’s.
NordVPN, test from South Africa
5 Mbps is a serious drop-down, and even 16 Mbps upload speed cannot comfort you even though the total distance to the test server is more than 9000 km.
Astrill VPN, test from South Africa
9 Mbps and 3 Mbs is marginally faster and good enough for HD content streaming.
NordVPN, test from India
Over 6000 km between us and the VPN server, we find a download speed of 4 Mbps and an upload speed of 3.5 Mbps.
Astrill, test from India
While the duel went pretty evenly up to this point, upon arriving in India, Astrill wins with a blistering 52 Mbps download speed.
This test again illustrates the prowess of Astrill in Asia compared to the competition. It also shows that while Astrill VPN has only 13 servers the African, Middle-eastern, and Indian regions, which comprise a mere 0.5% of their total server count, it still manages to compete with the big boys and even beat them. So, the next time you see a VPN that has only a few hundred servers – don’t forget to check how its speed compares to the competitors – you might be surprised like Nord was after falling off that Indian elephant.
Astrill servers and streaming
Netflix runs great on most Astrill servers – we’ve tested this in our Astrill for Netflix review. The US servers worked fine, and while we had trouble connecting to Canada, Australia, and Germany – we were more than happy to know that most of the time we will be able to watch our favorite shows in either HD or UltraHD.
Astrill servers and torrenting
Torrents are allowed on all servers marked with a star on the Astrill server list. Most of them are. While this still might not look good for some of you, it can actually be better to have fewer but optimized servers. Also, Astrill VPN protects you from IP leaks and other vulnerabilities without sacrificing much speed.
VIP VPN servers that are not on the Astrill server list
These VIP VPN servers are not on the list, but they take the speed and security to the next level. We mention them because this is an add-on that not many competitors offer.
For $10/month, you get 100 GB of traffic to use on VIP VPN servers. Some of them are in the US, but the majority is in Asia: Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and China. As you might guess, these servers are oriented to users in Asia and gamers who need maximum speed and reduced latency.
VIP VPN servers by Astrill offer not only increased speed but also increased security. With a multi-hop VPN connection, you connect to not one but two servers before establishing a connection to the endpoint. This makes tracking your traffic extremely difficult.
Last but not least, the VIP VPN plan gives you a priority on regular servers in case the paid ones become overloaded. This means you shouldn’t notice any decrease in connectivity at any time.
What can we say after looking at the Astrill server list?
The bigger server list doesn’t always mean the better server list. Astrill’s servers are physical and usually on 1Gbit or 10Gbit lines, beating competitors that blow up the numbers with virtual servers. The total server count is only 300+, but they are not that loaded compared to the most popular VPNs. Servers are good for torrenting streaming.
The server spread is good (60+ countries) but has room for improvement – ExpressVPN boasts 50% bigger spread. It has a lot of servers in Asia and should be selected for users in this area that want the best speed, including those connecting from China. It has fewer servers in the regions of Africa, the Middle East, and India but the speed is higher than NordVPN’s.
And last but not least, for $10/month you can access VIP VPN servers that increase connection speed and stability. If you add these to your Astrill server list, it will become a tough nut to crack for any competitor.
Read Astrill VPN review to know more about this provider.