Last update: 11.26.2018
If you’re hunting for a solid VPN with impressive encryption features, this Astrill VPN review could be the answer to your prayers.
Astrill VPN is a genuine all-rounder, with plenty of boxes ticked as far as VPNs. Overall, it’s a real contender on the online privacy scene, with a few reservations that we’ll get to in a bit.
The VPN itself is headquartered in the Indian Ocean nation of the Seychelles, which is unusual as far as Virtual Private Networks go. But its front end doesn’t differ much from the crowd. If anything, the Astrill website is slicker and better-looking than most, so if looks alone could protect your online data, there wouldn’t be much competition.
Astrill VPN makes a few bold claims on its site, which are worth listing as a starting point for this review. For instance, it promises:
- Up to 5 simultaneous connections
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unlimited server switches
- Extremely high speeds
- 24/7 support
- 322 servers in 63 countries
- Military-level encryption
- Payments in bitcoin
- Zero user logs
- The ability to unblock any website
- Fully-anonymous web surfing
- The ability to bypass censorship worldwide
That’s a bold list of claims for a mid-ranking VPN. If they can deliver on most of them, it would put Astrill at the forefront of the VPN world. Let’s see how they do.
Is Astrill VPN safe to use?
Firstly, let’s consider the crucial question: is Astrill VPN safe to use? From the list above, you would definitely think so. After all, Astrill lets you “Hide your online identity and surf the web anonymously”, while hiding your IP address and keeping “no logs.”
The encryption used by Astrill certainly appears to measure up. They employ AES-256-bit military-grade encryption, which applies to every payment plan in Astrill’s range – nobody is being discriminated against with lower quality protection. For the record, that also applies to 7 day free trials, which is a nice touch.
Security is also enhanced by the wide range of protocols offered by Astrill VPN. Options range from SSTP and PPTP to StealthVPN, OpenWeb, OpenVPN, Cisco IPSec and L2TP/IPSec to IKEv2/IPsec. That’s a pretty decent spread for a mass market VPN.
And there are some real technical chops behind what they offer. After all, it was Astrill staffers who created the popular OpenVPN and StealthVPN protocols – a sign that they know what they are doing when it comes to privacy.
Being based in Seychelles, Astrill VPN isn’t subject to data retention laws and harmful intelligence sharing agreements, such as the 5-eyes, 9-eyes, or 14-eyes country groups. This is a good sign and demonstrates a certain level of commitment to privacy.
- “[…]connection time, IP address, device type and Astrill VPN application version during the duration of your VPN session. Once you disconnect from VPN this information is removed permanently from our system.”
- “Astrill also counts the amount of traffic used by clients in order to plan network expansions. No personally identifiable information is kept – only the total number of transferred bytes. The very design of our VPN server software does not allow us to see which clients accessed what websites even if we wanted to. No logs whatsoever are stored on VPN servers after connection is terminated.”
- “Additionally to this, we keep last 20 connection records which include: connection time, connection duration, country, device type and Astrill client application version number.”
That’s certainly not nothing, but then again – it rarely is. The logs kept by Astrill VPN are not so bad.
Great speed & impressive performance
While Seychelles is a laid-back, relaxed kind of place, Astrill VPN is no slouch when it comes to providing breakneck speeds. As we have noted earlier in this Astrill VPN review, speed is one of their USPs, and if you use the Astrill client for a while, you won’t feel short-changed.
Here’s what we found after performing several Astrill VPN speed tests:
London, United Kingdom
New York, US
As you can see, Astrill VPN speeds are genuinely impressive, even bearing in mind that our base speeds without VPN are 240 Mbps.
While low upload speeds might be concerning to some, most users will not see that as a deal-breaker. High download speeds are routine, however, which should accommodate streamers and torrenters pretty comfortably. We were especially surprised by the fact that the US New York server managed to overtake the UK server, even though we’re located much closer to the latter.
How to download Astrill VPN
What about the ease of setting up the Astrill client? Well, this is another relatively strong area, and nobody will need an IT engineering degree to know how to download Astrill VPN.
Just head to the Astrill VPN website and choose your platform. Clients are available for Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, iOS, and routers, so almost everyone should be covered.
How to install it
When you’ve downloaded the VPN (and selected a pricing plan), you can power up the app with a single click and the client will be ready to go in seconds. Overall, almost anyone can set it up, so if you’re wondering about how to install an Astrill VPN, there’s no need to worry. It’s pretty simple.
How to use it
As we’ve hinted at earlier, Astrill’s user interface is efficient and simple. Just enter your username and password, pick a protocol, and log onto their servers.
If you want to customize your service, the client lets you do so, with options like enabling or disabling DNS leak protection. But if you want to keep things as they are, that’s no problem.
It’s a standard client, with a selection of servers and a few handy, widely-appealing features. For instance, you can easily specify which apps you’d like to funnel into Astrill VPN, and which should stay separate. And there’s also a smart mode, which routes international traffic via the VPN while maintaining standard connections to nearby sites. It’s not optimal for privacy, but it does speed things up and will be useful in certain situations.
Astrill VPN can be used in a variety of other ways, not just as a personal privacy tool. For example, they also offer a business package which is targeted at smaller companies. If you need to add a security layer to work emails, find ways of maintaining security while working remotely or carry out discreet market research – Astrill has the solution.
Another important aspect of using Astrill VPN is the ability to set it up on routers. This tool is especially useful in households with multiple devices, like Xboxes, PlayStations, Smart TVs and smartphones. If you’re a Roku user, for instance, you can route traffic through the VPN via your desktop, adding a layer of protection.
Apps & Extensions
Astrill VPN has apps for all the main platforms – Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and Routers. That’s more than we can reasonably ask for and should cover most users’ needs.
Using Astrill VPN for Netflix streaming
These days, if a VPN can’t provide access to decent quality Netflix streams, it’s very unlikely to make the grade. So should you use the Astrill VPN for Netflix or look elsewhere?
Astrill doesn’t like to make a point of it in their marketing material, but it’s clear they have worked hard to include access to streaming services as a key part of their package.
We connected to Astrill’s USA – New York 1 server and the results on the Netflix homepage were encouraging. Plenty of content that wouldn’t normally be available was now ready to stream.
There’s no doubt that users will be able to get past Netflix blockers, but just don’t expect every Astrill server to do the job.
When you do connect, speed isn’t an issue. We found that movies and TV were delivered in good resolution at a speed we could handle, with only very slight stutters every now and then. It definitely isn’t enough to criticize Astrill.
Astrill VPN for Torrenting
But what about torrenting? Being able to ensure private, fast torrenting is a real sign of a solid VPN, and it’s an area where seemingly great services sometimes fall down. So, can you rely on Astrill VPN for torrenting?
Absolutely. In fact, Astrill have factored torrenting into their software in a way that few other VPNs have. When you select your server, choose a P2P VPN server from the drop down list. Not all Astrill servers are torrent-friendly, but plenty are, and the ones that are seem to deliver good speeds. There’s also a port-forwarding option available, but beware when doing this – it’s not the best security decision.
Does it work in China?
A good VPN shouldn’t just work for American or European customers. It should be powerful enough to get around censorship worldwide, or at least in as many jurisdictions as possible.
One test we like to use is whether a VPN works in China – Astrill VPN certainly claims that it will. Again, the answer is yes. Astrill is one of a select band of VPNs who (at present) work well in China. Astrill VPN has the StealthVPN protocol, which is an upgraded version of OpenVPN to fool Deep Packet Inspection – a method used by China to block VPN traffic. The only problem is that Astrill doesn’t offer a free trial in the People’s Republic.
In their marketing material, Astrill makes big promises about customer assistance, committing to 24/7 support for all customers. If you’ve used low-quality VPNs in the past, you’ll know that’s a big claim.
Well, Astrill seems to do pretty well in terms of support, offering live chat (not 24/7, but dependable during US working hours), a couple of contact numbers (one in the USA and one in Hong Kong), and an email contact form.
The live chat staff is a handy resource that you won’t find with most other providers. It’s backed by an impressive archive of support manuals on the Astrill website. However, when we contacted them via email, the response time wasn’t encouraging.
Pricing: Is Astrill VPN a bargain or a bust?
As with almost every VPN we’ve covered, Astrill’s pricing varies by package, and prices decrease massively with longer contract terms. The cheapest package is $8.33 per month (billed annually), while the most expensive conventional package is $15.90 a month. This is very expensive, but for a reason.
Our advice is to give the 7-day free trial a go, check out the features, try some streams and then decide whether to buy a long-term plan. If you need a short-term VPN, Astrill is simply too much.
On top of those packages, Astrill VPN offers a VIP service for an extra $10 per month, which drastically increasing speeds. It’s targeted at gamers and Asian customers, but the price tag is pretty hefty. They also offer routers for $50 or more, letting you connect multiple devices.
Conclusion of our Astrill VPN review
After all that, what do we make of Astrill VPN? Well, the privacy setup seems solid, although there are some questions about logging. It’s not a deal breaker, as long as you trust Astrill to act ethically. With their excellent support services, they come across as a reputable outfit.
The speed is great, and the VPN works well both with torrent clients and Netflix. We also appreciated the easy to use client and the 7-day free trial. On the other hand, some of the packages are pretty expensive, and if you start adding on things like routers, the bill might spiral out of control.