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Shellfire VPN is not special in any way, aside from the Free version and the custom router.
Shellfire VPN is a service that has been around since 2002, in the very early days of the Internet being a household thing.
Based in Germany, Shellfire VPN comes just at the outer edge of countries associated with the Five Eyes Alliance and claims a no-log policy that hasn’t been contested so far. There’s a free version that offers all the security and unlimited data of the premium and premium plus version but doesn’t help unblock streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and the BBC iPlayer.
Whichever plan you choose, a big downside is that multiple connections aren’t allowed concurrently. There’s also no guarantee of it working in China or in other restricted countries, and some of the servers don’t allow torrenting.
Ultimately, there are no real eye-catching premium features; making the service perhaps a bit pricey when compared to others.
Is Shellfire VPN safe to use?
Right off from the bat, Shellfire VPN’s homepage and the app both make note of the no-logging policy.
Shellfire uses the OpenVPN protocol by default, which many consider one of the best and an industry standard. This also means good encryption: the Free and Premium version have AES-128-bit and 192-bit security, respectively, whereas the Premium Plus plan offers 256-bit encryption, you’d have to subscribe to the Premium Plus – which, even if subscribed to on a two-year basis, still costs a little over 5 dollars per month.
However, there’s no kill-switch – and given the fact that the connection drops a lot on the free version, this is a cause for concern. A kill-switch will immediately stop all traffic if your VPN connection breaks, which will prevent your identity from leaking.
Speed and Performance
While we recommended the OpenVPN protocol for security and put PPTP last, in terms of speed you should take that advice and do the opposite.
However, Shellfire VPN’s speeds still leave a lot to be desired. Testing on numerous servers on the paid version, the speeds went significantly down, falling by at least 30% for servers closest to us.
On the free version, the situation is even bleaker, with the speed failing below what the speed test app needs to load.
How to download Shellfire VPN
The setup is fairly uncomplicated and straightforward. You download the app, receive a secure activation link in the email, and you’re good to go. There’s not much trouble you can run into here – the website is highly intuitive and laid out in a bare-bones manner.
On the free version, there’s a 25-second delay before connecting. During this time, it takes over almost your entire screen (especially on a small laptop), letting you know about the Premium plans and differences between those and what you’re using.
Apps and extensions
Shellfire is available across all major platforms – Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. They claim that their Mac app is much better than the Windows one. If you’re a Mac user and you feel a significant improvement, let us know in the comments section!
Unless you’re using the VPN on a router, however, there seems to be no option for things such as Amazon Fire TV, or Kodi. However, the Shellfire VPN offers the Shellfire VPN Box router, which does have the advantage of beating the “no simultaneous connections.” It’s also good to have if you travel a lot.
The interface, especially on Windows, feels different than the sleek look we’ve come to expect from VPNs. Cluttered boxes with low resolution make up most of the screen and leave behind a lot of empty space, making the software feel more limited than it is.
Shellfire VPN for Netflix
Since some of Shellfire’s most reliable servers are in the US, streaming Netflix US content is very doable.
Even on the free version, which only lets you connect to either a German server or one from the United States, we were able to circumvent Netflix’s VPN ban.
Shellfire VPN for torrenting
Shellfire doesn’t advertise torrenting as a priority anywhere on their website or FAQs.
Still, trial-and-error led us to see that while some servers blocked torrents, others worked just fine.
However, with the fact that there’s an at-least-noticeable drop in speeds on the free version, everyday torrenting might not be feasible unless you pay to upgrade to Premium Plus.
At the time of writing, the Finland server was one of the best for torrenting, which we were easily able to find out by contacting Shellfire VPN’s support. However, getting in touch with Support wasn’t the easiest that it could’ve been – more on this in a section below.
This might be where Shellfire VPN would lose the most marks. There’s a simple, unassuming form on the website – no live-chat or direct contact, and the average response time during our tests (and gathering from other user reviews) seems to be at least a day or two, just for simple queries.
Here are the available support options:
- Support tickets
There does seem to be a live-chat option, but it turns out this is a simple contact form.
The Help section on the website also seems to be geared towards people who, perhaps, have never used a VPN before and wouldn’t know what more to ask about. Everything has been summarized, and no technical details have been given.
(On the Android app, the FAQ only seems to display two questions, one about data-logging and one about what a VPN is, which seems a bit irrelevant once you’ve already installed one).
However, bonus points to Shellfire VPN for the transparency on their practices, shortcomings, and the assurance that improvements are being worked on.
The pricing plans are as follows:
- Free plan with limited features
- 1-month plan: $11.95
- 1-year plan: $90.95 ($7.58/month)
- 2-year plan: $135.95 ($5.66/month)
- Shellfire Box 1-year (PremiumPlus): $113.95 ($9.50/month)
- Shellfire Box 2-year (PremiumPlus): $157.95 ($6.58/month)
Shellfire is one of the rare VPN services that let you buy a 2-year plan. For a payment of 140 dollars every two years, you’ve ensured peace of mind with knowing that you won’t suddenly be hit by a price spike.
Your monthly payment can be either (a few cents less than) 12 dollars, 8 dollars, or 6 dollars – for the monthly, yearly, and two-year plan respectively.
There is some choice in payment methods, including PayPal and even a pay-per-phone system (in addition to having the common VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and BitCoin options).
They’re also more than willing to refund your money within 14 days if you’re dissatisfied, no questions asked. This is a good sign; one that goes a long way towards building trust, especially with money involved.
However, it has to be said that this is outrageously expensive for a decidedly mediocre VPN. Although the Free version is quite decent.
Shellfire VPN is very average, not particularly trustworthy, and somewhat on the expensive end. Unless you’re using the Free version, we don’t recommend it.