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Astrill VPN Review

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Astrill VPN screenshot
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

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Our Verdict

Astrill VPN works in China and supports safe P2P torrenting. It’s expensive, but comes with advanced security and fast speeds on an all-physical server network. ‘Stealth VPN’ is an impressive feature and it unblocks US Netflix. But VPN beginners and casual users may want to consider a cheaper and less complex VPN.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Astrill is one of the most advanced VPNs on the market. It’s equipped with lots security features that make it one of the safest and most customizable VPN services available. By the end of this Astrill VPN review, you’ll understand why.

Two out of four of Astrill’s security protocols were made in-house by its expert team, including OpenWeb and StealthVPN. The other two protocols are the best standardized options available: OpenVPN and WireGuard, placing Astrill at the forefront of VPN security.

We’ve tested Astrill on independent China servers and can confirm that its SmartMode feature and Stealth VPN protocol consistently work in China and reliably bypass the Great Firewall.

This makes Astrill one of the best VPN for residents and visitors to China looking to unblock websites.

Astrill also comes with P2P support for torrenters, a SOCKS5 proxy, and port forwarding options. Additional security features include leak protection, a website filter, an ad blocker, and a kill switch. It’s one of the most impressive VPN packages out there – ideal for those who prioritise security.

Astrill does collect logs, but only for the duration of your VPN session. It’s also worse for streaming than most other top-level VPN services; there are no servers optimized for Netflix, BBC iPlayer, or any other streaming platform. For this reason, we don’t recommend Astrill if you want a VPN for streaming.

At $10.00 per month, Astrill is also the most expensive VPN on the market. The company emphasises its dedicated team of experts, bare-metal server network, and elite investment in security as the reason for this high cost.

If you’re looking for a safe VPN for China then Astrill VPN may very well be worth it, but there are cheaper options available for casual VPN users and streaming fans.

Compare Astrill to its top rivals side-by-side.

Astrill VPN Pros & Cons

  1. Works reliably in China
  2. Custom protocols plus OpenVPN & WireGuard
  3. Ad blocker, leak protection, kill switch, app filter & more
  4. Servers optimized for P2P & torrenting
  5. Based in Seychelles
  6. Works with US Netflix
  1. The most expensive VPN
  2. No refund policy
  3. Collects minimal logs
  4. Doesn’t unblock BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, or Disney+
  5. No browser extensions
  6. No transparency reports, warrant canary, or audit

Astrill VPN Key Data

Data CapUnlimited
Speed80Mbps
Logging PolicySome User Logs
Data LeaksNo
JurisdictionSeychelles (Privacy Haven)
Servers110
IP Addresses110+
Countries58
US NetflixYes
TorrentingUnlimited
Works in ChinaYes
Support24/7 Live Chat
Cheapest Price$10.00/mo over 12 Months
Official WebsiteAstrill.com

Astrill VPN Category Ratings

We test and review every VPN in eight key areas. Here’s how Astrill performs in each category:

  • Privacy & Logging Policy: 9.4/10
  • Encryption & Security: 9.6/10
  • Speed & Reliability: 8.7/10
  • Streaming & Torrenting: 7.5/10
  • Bypassing Censorship: 9.9/10
  • Ease of Use: 8.0/10
  • Customer Support: 9.6/10
  • Price & Value for Money: 5.0/10

To learn more about our methodology, read our full VPN testing process.

Collects Minor Logs

Logging Policy & Jurisdiction

Privacy & Logging Policy Rating: 9.4/10

Astrill VPN’s privacy policy is simple and straightforward. It claims to operate a “strict no-logs policy,” but in fact keeps some personal information and connection logs to maintain optimal performance.

Most of the information Astrill records only lasts for the duration of an active VPN session. This includes:

  • Connection time
  • IP address
  • Bandwidth used
  • Device type
  • Application version

It’s not ideal that Astrill logs your IP address at any point in time, but this data lasts only for the time you’re connected to the VPN and is then permanently deleted.

This maintains the app’s performance without compromising on your privacy. All VPNs need to handle a minimal amount of information in order to function; in this case, Astrill needs it to regulate the number of devices simultaneously connecting from one account.

Astrill also tracks the total number of bytes transferred for network maintenance and expansion. This isn’t personally identifiable, and presents no threat to your privacy, either. Astrill reassures the user that:

“The very design of our VPN server software does not allow us to see which clients accessed what websites even if we wanted to.”

However, in addition, Astrill logs your last 20 connection records, which include:

  • Connection time
  • Connection duration
  • Country
  • Device type
  • Astrill client application version number

This, Astrill says, is used by customer support to identify and fix problems. None of this is personally identifiable, either, and if your Astrill account is inactive for 30 days this information is automatically deleted. You can also request to delete this data manually by contacting support@astrill.com.

2.2 of Astrill’s privacy policy lists the information that the VPN logs during your session.

Astrill logs more information than necessary, which isn’t ideal for privacy. The preservation of each user’s previous 20 connection records means it isn’t a strict no-logs service as advertised, but there are no serious privacy implications. Crucially, Astrill deletes all sensitive information after each VPN session. The data stored after this point poses no direct threat.

The VPN would benefit from commissioning an independent audit into its logging practices. This would eliminate all doubts about its safety. We’d also like to see regular transparency reports so that users can see any requests for data that the company has received from government agencies.

Where is Astrill Based?

Astrill VPN was founded in 2009, making it one of the oldest VPNs around.

The Creative Director is Muhammad Zeeshan and the corporate entity behind Astrill is called Veloxee Corp. The company was built and continues to be run by a team of cryptographers, programmers, and networking engineers.

The company isn’t particularly transparent, but it has serious security credentials; there’s never been a server breach, security leak, or controversy surrounding the company. Astrill is scandal-free, secure, and trustworthy.

It’s also incorporated in the privacy stronghold of the Seychelles, registered in the capital of Victoria on Mahé Island. This is the ideal jurisdiction in which to base a VPN company because it is not subject to intrusive data retention laws or mass surveillance agreements between intelligence partners like the NSA (US), GCHQ (UK), ASIS (Australia), and CSIS (Canada).

In other words, no one can force Astrill VPN to hand over your data to foreign governments.

Astrill VPN Reliably Works in China

China VPN Test Results

Bypassing Censorship Rating: 9.9/10

Astrill is one of the best VPN services for China and other highly-censored countries in 2021. Its proprietary Stealth VPN protocol and Smart Mode features are both designed to bypass state censorship, website blocks, and internet shutdowns – making Astrill VPN one of the best anti-censorship tools available.

This isn’t just speculation – we’ve confirmed Astrill’s effectiveness inside China by testing it on our own server in Shanghai. We connected remotely, installed Astrill, and tested the VPN from within the country in a way that is subject to the exact same regulations as any other computer that uses the Chinese internet.

It has proven itself to be reliable and consistent since we started testing, which is why it’s currently a top recommendation for China. Astrill even has an alternative website for those in China.

Our findings are corroborated by the anti-censorship website greatfire.org, which shows that Astrill is one of the most stable VPNs in China. The graph below shows that Astrill has been 95-100% effective in China for most of a four year period:

A stability graph for using Astrill in China

Results showing Astrill’s stability as an anti-censorship tool in China

Stealth VPN and Smart Mode

Astrill is particularly effective against censorship thanks to the proprietary technology designed by Astrill’s specialist team.

StealthVPN works by providing an additional layer of obfuscation on top of OpenVPN in order to disguise your VPN traffic. It is designed to evade deep packet inspection (DPI) and firewall blocks – the two main censorship methods used by The Great Firewall of China.

It’s a stable and reliable protocol that works with both UDP and TCP protocols. It uses RSA-2048 certificates for authentication and the AES-256 cipher to encrypt your data .

Stealth VPN is not available on iPhone or iPad due to “limitations from Apple.” For this reason, we don’t recommend Astrill for use in China on iOS devices. If that’s what you’re looking for, we suggest ExpressVPN.

Astrill has another feature called Smart Mode, a split tunneling feature available only on the OpenWeb protocol and only in China. It uses regional IP addresses in China to evade censors while secretly tunneling and unblocking international websites. It’s ideal for accessing messaging applications like WhatsApp and streaming services like YouTube.

EXPERT TIP: Smart mode is ideal for users within China who want to access local sites while connected to a VPN. StealthVPN is better if you want to connect to the global internet and access international websites.

You can also use Astrill’s Unblock sites option, which serves the same function as Smart Mode only across all connection protocols. This feature only tunnels blocked websites through the VPN while all others are accessed directly. The list of websites to include or exclude can be customized and specified by IP address, too.

Options under Astrill’s site filter tool

What is the best Astrill server for China?

Astrill also offers specially-optimized SuperCharged servers, sometimes called China-optimized servers. These servers are designed to maximize speeds and lower latency for users in China. There are also nearby servers in Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea, which means you can evade censorship and retain optimal speeds at the same time. These are the best Astrill VPN servers for China.

Evading China’s Great Firewall is a benchmark test for any VPN that sells itself as an anti-censorship tool. If a VPN works in China, it’s likely to work in other highly-censored countries, too. This means Astrill also works in countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and UAE.

It’s important to remember that you’re not eligible for Astrill’s seven-day free trial if you sign up in China, so make sure you sign up before you travel there if you want to take advantage of the free trial.

SUMMARY: Astrill is an excellent VPN for China. Its proprietary connection protocols and large server network will work to unblock your favorite websites and apps and keep your browsing activity safe, making it ideal for Chinese residents, visitors, or users in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Advanced Security Features

Encryption & Security

Protocols

IKEv2/IPSec

L2TP/IPSec

OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)

PPTP

SSTP

Encryption

AES-256

Security

DNS Leak Blocking

First-party DNS

IPV6 Leak Blocking

Supports TCP Port 443

VPN Kill Switch

WebRTC Leak Blocking

Advanced features

Split Tunneling

Encryption & Security Rating: 9.6/10

Astrill VPN has one of the most impressive security packages of any VPN. It comes with the AES-256 encryption cipher, four excellent connection protocols (including OpenVPN and WireGuard), port forwarding, a kill switch, leak protection, and safe access to the dark web without Tor. This is an extremely safe VPN and a fantastic choice for privacy.

VPN Protocols & Features

Astrill VPN comes with a number of connection protocols to establish secure connections across its apps. These include Stealth VPN, OpenVPN, OpenWeb, and WireGuard. You can also manually set up other protocols including Cisco IPSec, IKEv2/IPSec, L2TP/IPSec, and OpenConnect.

OpenVPN and WireGuard are the two most important protocols. Offering these alongside Stealth VPN and OpenVPN – two proprietary options – offers a great balance between standardized and bespoke security.

We don’t think you need to configure any more protocols, but you can if you have a strong preference. Astrill has rightly decided to abandon older, less secure protocols like PPTP and SSTP even as other VPNs continue to offer them.

OpenVPN is currently the industry-standard protocol that we recommend you use as much as possible. It balances performance with security and works well across almost all use-cases. OpenVPN on Astrill works well with P2P clients like BitTorrent, but it’s not available on connections in China.

OpenWeb is another of Astrill’s proprietary protocols, designed for fast streaming and browsing across the web. Rather than encrypt the traffic leaving your entire device, OpenWeb only tunnels traffic from popular web browsers like Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, Chrome, and Chromium.

You can configure OpenWeb to encrypt traffic from other applications too, and also share your OpenWeb connections with iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. This is useful in case mobile VPN protocols are blocked by ISP or network administrators.

EXPERT TIP: If you switch servers or turn your VPN off when using the OpenWeb protocol, Astrill will automatically disconnect all applications. You can prevent these disconnections by going to Settings > Advanced > Keep Connection.

Kill Switch, App Guard, and Onion over VPN

Astrill’s kill switch works well to prevent IP leaks and cut your entire internet connection should the VPN connection fail. A pop-up window appears asking if you want to restore internet connection or attempt to reconnect the VPN before continuing.

There’s also a feature called App Guard available on Windows, which Astrill describes as an “enhanced” version of a kill switch. This feature blocks apps that you don’t ever want to visit without a secure VPN connection, like BitTorrent or uTorrent. It works even when the Astrill desktop app is not running and is enabled automatically on system startup.

 

Astrill’s App Guard

 

Astrill is also a great VPN for accessing the deep web because of its Onion over VPN feature. This automatically routes traffic through a system that enables secure access to deep web domains, so you don’t even need to use Tor Browser.

All you have to do is open any .onion website in your regular browser while connected to Astrill and traffic gets routed through the VPN to the Tor network and back to you. This will hide your Tor traffic, making deep web activity invisible, and it works on all of Astrill’s servers.

To do this on Firefox requires special configuration that Astrill has written a guide for.

EXPERT TIP: You can bypass port blocks in school, work offices, or hotels by using Astrill. Simply navigate to Settings > OpenWeb Options and change the connection port to 443 or 80.

IP, DNS, and WebRTC Leaks

We tested for any compromising IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks by connecting to a US server from London and found no leaks of any kind.

Astrill VPN leak test using browserleaks.com

We also ran Astrill’s Android software through the εxodus web tool to see if there are any hidden trackers in the app that could compromise your privacy. We were pleased to discover that it contains absolutely no trackers of any kind.

 

Astrill VPN on Android contains zero trackers and only three permissions.

There are only three permissions found within the app, none of which are considered dangerous or unusual. This makes Astrill’s Android app the perfect example of tracker-free, privacy-friendly software.

Expensive Prices & No Refunds, but Offers a Seven-Day Free Trial

Free Trial & Pricing

Astrill VPN Coupon

Astrill VPN Pricing Plan

Price & Value for Money Rating: 5.0/10

Astrill VPN is one of the most expensive VPNs available. It costs $10.00 per month on its cheapest deal (paid as £120.00 every year). There are two other subscription plans: $20.00 for a single month and $15.00 per month for a six-month deal (charged $90.00 every six months). You can also get a quote for business plans.

Astrill provides the same features for all of its price plans, but it also charges $5.00 a month extra if you want a Private IP address.

Astrill VIP

Astrill’s VIP plan costs an extra $10.00 per month. This gives you access to additional VPN servers that are optimized and prioritized over normal traffic.

Astrill VIP is advertised as a feature for users in Asia and those interested in using a low-latency VPN while gaming. VIP servers are situated in Hong Kong, Taiwan, USA, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and China.

This level also comes with Multi-hop servers, which provide additional security by routing traffic through two different VPN servers, not just one. While this makes you harder to track, speeds may be reduced. Surfshark offers the exact same feature, only it’s included in a standard subscription package, which itself is considerably cheaper at $2.49 per month.

We don’t see how an extra $5.00 per month for a dedicated IP or $10.00 per month for Astrill VIP is justifiable, especially on top of an already expensive subscription plan. Astrill insists that its high subscription cost and additional prices are down to the quality and breadth of its service, and the amount of resources it puts into development.

If price is a motivating factor, we recommend that you check our list of the best cheap VPNs.

  1. Monthly

    US$20/mo

    Billed $20.00 every month
  2. 6 months

    US$15/mo

    Billed $90.00 every 6 months
    Save 25%
  3. 12 months

    US$10/mo

    Billed $120.00 every 12 months
    Save 50%

Payment & Refund Options

Credit CardYes
PayPalYes
BitcoinYes
AliPayYes
UnionPayYes

Astrill accepts a diverse range of payment methods, including some stand-out international and privacy-friendly options. These include major credit and debit cards, PayPal, WeChat Pay, and Bitcoin, among others.

This gives the user a great amount of choice and control over their privacy, even if it’s just shy of Mullvad VPN’s approach, which allows customers to send subscription cash to its office — the ultimate anonymous payment method.

Astrill has a zero-tolerance no refunds policy, which is rare for major VPN providers. Most VPNs offer a 30-day money-back guarantee with no questions asked. In Astrill’s case, the refund policy states:

“If you want to try Astrill’s product, you can purchase the shortest plan we offer.”

How to get Astrill for Free

Thankfully, Astrill VPN has a genuine seven-day free trial that you can instantly download from its website. This means that you can take it for a test run before deciding whether it’s worth the investment.

Astrill fades the servers unavailable on its free trial

This is one of our recommended VPN free trials. It’s available on Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS, requires no payment details to sign up, has no data caps, and cancels automatically after seven days. The only limitation is a restriction on the number of servers available and its lack of availability in China.

You can also win a free 30-day Astrill account if you invite a friend that decides to purchase a subscription.

Impressive International Speeds

Speed & Reliability

Speed & Reliability Rating: 8.7/10

Astrill is a fast VPN that is especially impressive on long-distance connections. However, it doesn’t quite compete with the fastest VPNs overall due to its slower local speeds and poor latency performance.

Astrill also has its own in-app speed test tool which it claims is “more accurate than web-based tools.” You can use it to test every server’s speed and ping in real time, which helps you make a decision on the fastest server in any given location.

Astrill’s speed test tool.

Overall, Astrill offers average connection speeds that are more than fast enough for torrenting, streaming, and browsing, but we would like to see faster same-country speeds.

We put all of the VPNs we review through a rigorous speed testing process using the OpenVPN protocol to determine their average speeds both locally and globally.

Local Speed Test Results

Before using Astrill VPN:

  1. DownloadMbps

    99.5

  2. UploadMbps

    99.68

  3. Pingms

    2

When connected to Astrill VPN:

  1. DownloadMbps

    80.11

  2. UploadMbps

    92.15

  3. Pingms

    14

We measured an average download speed of 80Mbps when using Astrill VPN on a nearby server. Astrill’s 19% speed loss doesn’t measure up to the best local download speeds that we see, which often fall under 10%. However, its speeds are rarely slow and do not fluctuate unpredictably.

  • Download speed without Astrill: 99.50Mbps
  • Download speed with Astrill: 80.11Mbps
  • Our download speed loss when Astrill is running: 19%

EXPERT TIP: If OpenVPN, StealthVPN, or WireGuard speeds are slow, try switching your connection to UDP. If this doesn’t work, you can lower the MTU value to 1400 or 1300 via Settings > VPN Options.

Long-Distance Speed Tests

Astrill VPN performs much better when it comes to long-distance global speeds. That means if you’re looking to connect to distant countries, Astrill will do the job of getting optimal performance with little to no lag.

These are the average speed scores we recorded when connecting from London to an Astrill server in the following locations:

  • US: 81Mbps (download) & 36Mbps (upload)
  • Germany: 77Mbps (download) & 90Mbps (upload)
  • Singapore: 55Mbps (download) & 18Mbps (upload)
  • Australia: 50Mbps (download) & 12Mbps (upload)

These are excellent results for long-distance connections. 81Mbps in the US is very fast and the Australian and Singapore results are just as impressive.

How Fast is Astrill Compared to Other VPNs?

Alongside our manual tests, we tested Astrill VPN’s speeds through our custom VPN speed test tool.

It’s quite simple: take a look at the graph below and compare Astrill against the very best VPNs. It evaluates each VPN’s average drop in internet download speed while running a local connection on our New York server.

The results go back for eight weeks and run automatically four times a day. This way you can get a clear picture of Astrill’s reliability. We cap the speeds at 100Mbps to mimic the average household internet speed.

VPN Speed Performance Comparison Chart

As you can see, Astrill is performing extremely well. Its average speed loss rarely falls below 5%, which is exceptional, and its straight line tells us that it’s a very reliable service.

Even compared to excellent providers like ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access, Astrill is very dependable. It’s also beating providers like CyberGhost, Surfshark, VyprVPN, IPVanish, and others when it comes to speed.

Only Unblocks US Netflix, but Great for Torrenting

Streaming & Torrenting

Streaming & Torrenting Rating: 7.5/10

Astrill takes itself seriously as a privacy and anti-censorship tool, but this comes at the cost of streaming capabilities. There is no mention of streaming across the entirety of its website and the VPN offers no optimized servers for services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, or Disney+. There’s no app or setup guide for Amazon Fire TV Stick, either.

Astrill does work to unblock the US Netflix library. Combined with its strong long-distance speeds, this makes it a viable option for those looking to stream US-exclusive Netflix content.

Unfortunately, Astrill doesn’t support streaming for any other Netflix geolocation. When we asked why we were getting US Netflix on Australia servers, we were told that Netflix is not supported on Australia servers and so the traffic is automatically redirected towards the US. This applies every time you want to access any other library that isn’t the US.

Astrill also doesn’t work to unblock BBC iPlayer, BritBox, Hulu, HBO Max, or access Disney+ if you’re in a region that still doesn’t have it.

It doesn’t cater to Amazon Prime watchers, either. There’s no custom app for Fire Stick TV or even a manual setup guide included in an otherwise extensive wiki page.

As VPNs fight for streaming effectiveness, it’s odd to see a major provider essentially ignore the fact that many users want a VPN for entertainment needs as well as privacy ones.

With no optimized servers, Smart DNS tool, or access to major streaming services, we can’t recommend Astrill VPN for streaming. If you want to know which are the best VPNs for streaming, you can see our top picks here.

An Excellent VPN for Torrenting

Astrill pays more attention to torrenting than streaming. It has fast speeds, P2P-optimized servers, port forwarding customization, an effective kill switch, and robust security. This makes Astrill VPN an excellent option for torrenting.

The vast majority of Astrill’s global servers support P2P traffic and allow you to torrent without any limitation. The VPN also supports automatic and manual port forwarding, which is a useful tool for faster torrenting. This is enabled in settings, but it will only work with servers that are marked with a star (highly secure servers). There is also a port forward test tool found in the help menu which allows you to check specific TCP ports.

Astrill works well with torrenting clients like BitTorrent, LimeWire, and uTorrent. You can configure UDP port forwarding in these clients and enable UDP traffic flow over a secure tunnel. Seeders, copyright trolls, trackers or ISPs won’t be able to see your identity or activity thanks to AES-256 encryption.

You also won’t experience a leak or accidental exposure of your IP address thanks to Astrill’s DNS leak blocking feature and a reliable kill switch.

However, we don’t recommend that you torrent with the OpenWeb protocol. You should only use Astrill’s P2P-supported protocols: OpenVPN and WireGuard.

Global Server Coverage

Server Locations

Globe with a blue flag
58Countries
Image of a city landscape
111Cities
Image of a pink marker
110+IP Addresses

Astrill has a good-sized server network in 110 cities across 58 countries. These “super powerful” servers have been placed strategically around the world to ensure “lightning fast” global coverage, no matter where you are.

There are servers available in 2 countries in Africa, 13 in Asia, 36 in Europe, 3 in North America, 2 in Oceania and 2 in South America.

Astrill’s international approach means you’re much more likely to find a server near you, wherever you are in the world. It also pays attention to Asian servers; there are more countries in Asia to choose from there than in North America, South America, Oceania, and Africa combined (although there are 26 cities in the US alone).

Astrill has Asian servers in:

  • Indonesia (Jakarta)
  • Hong Kong
  • India (5 cities)
  • Israel (2 cities)
  • Japan (Tokyo)
  • Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur)
  • Singapore
  • South Korea (2 cities)
  • Taiwan (4 cities)
  • Thailand (Bangkok)
  • Turkey (Bursa)
  • UAE (Dubai)
  • Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City)

Server Types

There is also a range of different server types on each Astrill app, including:

  • China Optimized
  • Dedicated IP/Private IP (available for a fee)
  • Multi-Hop (Astrill VIP)
  • P2P optimized (marked by star)
  • SuperCharged

The apps make finding the right server incredibly easy, too. Servers marked with a yellow star support P2P and port forwarding, you can favorite servers, sort them alphabetically, and find P2P servers by typing an asterisk (*) into the search bar.

As part of Astrill VIP, which costs $10.00 a month extra, you are allowed access to Astrill’s multi-hop servers that provide additional security, as well as premium bandwidth. Those using VIP servers are given priority.

For VIP users, you can discover multi-hop by typing in a hashtag (#), ‘vip’ for VIP servers, and ‘private’ for dedicated IPs.

We’d like to see these servers streamlined and available under one package — especially considering Astrill VPN’s already high cost. The range of options could be difficult to understand for new or casual VPN users.

Servers marked with letters and numbers like CG1, M1, WS1 and X1 actually serve no additional function for the user, and are only for “internal identifications.” These markers are confusing and give the app an unnecessarily technical look.

For a fee of $5.00 per month, Astrill also sells private IP addresses, sometimes called a dedicated IP. Using a private IP means no one else has access to it. It’s more reliable for accessing streaming sites and speeds might be better due to less congestion. All ports are forwarded automatically to your private IP, so all VOIP and P2P applications will work without additional configuration.

While this can be useful, we suggest that you avoid purchasing a private IP address. Using a dedicated IP address essentially replaces one identifying IP address with another. Without the option to switch between randomly-assigned IPs or get ‘lost in the crowd’, everything done on that IP address can be traced back to one user — you.

An All-Physical Server Network

While VPNs like ExpressVPN and CyberGhost have more servers on offer, Astrill promotes the fact that its servers are all physical, or bare-metal. This means that Astrill’s servers don’t rely on virtualization, which can lead to security risks.

It’s not clear whether Astrill owns or rents its servers from a third party. Most VPNs don’t like to reveal information about whether servers are rented, owned, or part of a co-location agreement. Astrill is no different, telling us:

“This is internal information which we can not provide to anybody [sic].”

Overall, Astrill’s server network is secure and provides enough coverage for fast global speeds. The emphasis on Asian locations and the fact that all of its servers are physical is an added benefit that’s rare amongst most VPN providers. It’s not the largest or the fastest set of servers on the market, but it does everything well enough that we can recommend it.

Great for Desktop, Minimal on Mobile

Ease of Use

How to Install & Set Up Astrill VPN

Ease of Use Rating: 8.0/10

Astrill VPN isn’t visually appealing, but it has created a nice balance between technically-advanced desktop apps and lightweight mobile apps. Its desktop apps are nicely consistent across devices, with little to no variation between Windows and MacOS versions.

But Astrill’s desktop applications are quite complex. Once installing the VPN, you are presented with a 36 slide crash course on how to use the service. It’s very useful information, especially for beginners, but it could be confusing for some.

The mobile apps are far more minimal, with less privacy tools or customization options. This feels more suited to lightweight mobile activity and doesn’t sacrifice security – there are still multiple protocols to choose from as well as the ability to use P2P-optimized servers.

Overall, Astrill’s apps offer an impressive balance of complexity and functionality.

Desktop Clients

Using the desktop apps, you’ll notice that the settings change based on which protocol you’re using. With four protocols to choose from, this means that there are countless variables to get your head around. Although, Astrill has attempted to make its app easier through shortcuts, a hot-key to easily toggle Astrill on/off, and the ability to restore it to default factory settings.

Astrill’s desktop apps are intuitive, responsive, and simple to use – if you can understand the features on offer. On both Windows and MacOS you can change protocol with ease via a drop-down menu in the top right corner, select servers via an easily accessible list, and click the burger menu in the top left to discover advanced settings options.

You’ll find protocol-specific options, such as UDP or TCP connections, port and internet MTU adjustments, and easy switching between encryption ciphers, including AES-128, AES-192, and AES-256.

 

Astrill’s settings menu

There’s also an option to block ads, the ability to enable port forwarding and VPN sharing, as well as DNS server customization that allows you to choose between the Astrill default, Google DNS, CloudFlare DNS, and more.

Astrill DNS server options

Via ‘Privacy settings’ you can enable the kill switch and clear cookies instantly. On top of that, you can always use Astrill’s in-app speed test tool to test all of its servers in real-time.

The only difference between the Windows and MacOS clients is that the former comes with additional Windows-specific leak protections, an application filter, and app guard. This makes Astrill on Windows slightly more advanced, but it’s impressive that the MacOS and Windows app are almost exactly identical.

Android Client

Astrill’s Android app is less complex than its desktop counterparts and visually much more appealing. It comes with OpenWeb, StealthVPN, and WireGuard protocol options, but no OpenVPN.

The settings menu is significantly stripped-back with options limited to changing the language, using the application filter, showing logs, and activating battery optimization.

 

Astrill’s settings menu on its Android app

 

Selecting StealthVPN gives you further ‘VPN options’ that allows you to choose between ‘Fast (UDP)’ connections or ‘Reliable (TCP)’ connections.

The server list doesn’t have a search function and is listed by what appears to be a priority order, with USA and UK at the top and African nations, such as South Africa and Egypt, at the bottom, which must be scrolled down to.

Servers that are optimized for torrenting are helpfully marked with a small green star. The vast majority of the servers on the list are listed as P2P-optimized, so you can torrent from your Android device safely.

 

Astrill’s servers are listed by priority and mark P2P servers with a green star

Astrill on Android is incredibly simple and easy to use – essentially a ‘click and protect’ service that is quite different to its Windows and MacOS version.

If you’re attracted to Astrill for its extensive list of features and tools, we’d suggest using it on desktop primarily. If you just want to protect your Android phone on-the-go, it’s worth installing Astrill.

iOS Client

Astrill’s iOS client is even more sparse than the Android app. There’s very little to it other than a big on/off toggle, a server location drop-down menu, and the ability to switch between TCP and UDP connections.

Although it’s not listed in the app, the TCP is an OpenWeb connection and UDP is WireGuard.

 

Astrill’s iOS app home screen

The server list comes with a search function and a favorite toggle but there are no optimized servers for streaming or torrenting. SuperCharged and China Optimized servers are present, but this is a long way from the extensive feature-list of the MacOS version.

Available Across All Major Platforms and Devices

Platforms & Devices

Apps

Windows LogoWindows
Mac LogoMac
iOS LogoiOS
Android LogoAndroid
Linux LogoLinux
Router LogoRouter

Astrill VPN is available on Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android, and routers. You can also configure it to a number of other devices, including BlackBerry, Amazon Kindle, and Windows Phone with the help of Astrill’s setup guides.

Astrill lets you connect up to five devices simultaneously under one account but it doesn’t offer any browser extensions for Chrome or Firefox. This is disappointing for those who want a convenient way to conduct safe and light browsing of the web. Having said that, Astrill’s OpenWeb protocol serves a similar function.

Games Consoles & Streaming Devices

AppleTV LogoAppleTV
Chromecast LogoChromecast
Nintendo LogoNintendo
PlayStation LogoPlayStation
Xbox LogoXbox

You can install Astrill VPN on a router and protect every device in your household or office by doing so. This is done by going to your account page and selecting ‘Router set-up’. You can set up on a DD-WRT, Tomato, or ASUS router. Astrill has included a helpful video tutorial on how to do this via its website.

This means that you can theoretically use Astrill while you play video games on consoles like Xbox Series S|X or PlayStation 5. Astrill promotes its VIP version as the best way to do this by offering super fast speeds with low ping. However, due to Astrill’s high ping and the absence of a Smart DNS feature, we recommend ExpressVPN for the purpose of gaming.

We’re disappointed to see that Astrill has made no attempt to offer a Fire TV Stick app. This isn’t surprising considering Astrill’s lack of interest in providing a service for entertainment needs.

The Astrill Wiki does include instructions on how to install Astrill on Apple TV, Boxee, and Kindle Fire, though. It’s strange that they haven’t done the same for Firestick.

Knowledgeable 24/7 Live Chat Support

Customer Support

24/7 Live chat supportYes
24/7 Email supportYes
Live chat SupportYes
EmailYes
Tutorial VideosYes
Online ResourcesYes

Customer Support Rating: 9.6/10

Astrill VPN has a great customer support system. Its live chat runs 24/7 and the support agents are well-informed, knowledgeable, and respond very quickly.

We found the video tutorials on the website and the extensive Astrill Wiki to be very helpful resources, too.

The wiki has information and manual setup guides to getting Astrill on Apple TV, Boxee, routers, iPads and BlackBerry, and there’s general information about all of Astrill’s features.

You can also take advantage of other support channels, like:

There’s even a friendly cartoon introduction to VPNs.

Overall, Astrill has it all when it comes to customer support and we can’t say a bad word about it. The support on the site is extremely useful, offering FAQ’s and video tutorials explaining some of the more advanced features.

Do We Recommend Astrill VPN?

The Bottom Line

Astrill offers a safe and impressive VPN service with top AES-256 cipher, the very best protocols for encryption, and strong physical servers. Its main strength is reliability against Chinese censorship and its focus on performance in Asia generally. As an anti-censorship and internet security tool, it’s exceptional.

Connection speeds are also strong, especially long-distance, even if they don’t compete with the fastest VPN services around. Robust P2P support for torrenting will also please any file-sharer. Its Seychelles jurisdiction and private logging policy are also reassuring.

Astrill is less impressive when it comes to streaming. If you want to access the US Netflix library then Astrill will work. If you want to watch Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, or any other streaming service, you should look elsewhere.

The app could also be made simpler for beginners. Currently, there are too many variables and technical terms for a casual user. Additional fees for dedicated IPs seem unreasonable too — especially when it’s already the most expensive VPN on the market.

Luckily, customer support is excellent. Astrill has the most informed and knowledgeable customer support assistants we’ve come across, and their responses come in a matter of seconds thanks to the live chat feature that runs 24 hours a day.

While Astrill VPN is an extremely expensive service with room for improvement, it will safely hide your IP and protect your browsing activity with stronger security than most competing VPN services. It is an excellent VPN for China that is unmatched when it comes to bypassing censorship.

 

Additional research by David Hughes

Alternatives to Astrill VPN

The new ExpressVPN logo

ExpressVPN

When it comes to ExpressVPN vs Astrill, ExpressVPN wins. It deals with censorship well, works to unblock streaming content, and is almost half the price of Astrill. It’s got great security and fast speeds to match. ExpressVPN is #1 for a reason. Read ExpressVPN review

Surfshark

Surfshark

If additional features are what you’re after, Surfshark is just as comprehensive as Astrill – and much, much cheaper. It’s got multi-hop, split tunneling, and obfuscation technology like Astrill, only it’s part of its regular subscription package. It also unblocks 15 Netflix libraries. Read Surfshark review

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio


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