Astrill is a bit of a mixed bag: it's fast and has great features, but its interface was designed for ants and it's pricey. Still, it's good for Netflix and other streaming and allows torrenting, so we can't ban it from keeping company with our best VPN providers. Check out our full Astrill review to find out more.
Astrill is a fast, compact VPN that comes with an excellent set of features. It also comes with a hefty price tag that doesn’t seem justified given the limited server selection and poor user experience.
In this Astrill review, we’re going to go over where the VPN excels and where it falls flat. It’ll be put to the test in features, pricing, ease of use, supported devices, server locations, speed, security and customer server. After all that, we’ll give our verdict on it.
We like Astrill’s filtering features and proprietary protocols. Download speeds aren’t bad, either. If you’re trying to save a buck, though, it’s best to look elsewhere, as Astrill is among the most expensive options in our best VPN selection.
- Gets into Netflix
- Application filter
- VPN sharing
- Multiple protocol option
- No logs policy
- Difficult to use
- No knowledgebase
Despite the tiny user interface, Astrill has many features. The interface shows you a button for turning on the connection, and a small graph at the bottom displays your speed. If you want to test the speeds of other servers, you can use Astrill’s speed test function. You can select as many servers as you want and automatically test their speed and latency.
Our favorite features, though, are the filters. Astrill has filtering for websites and applications. By default, it is set up to direct all traffic through the VPN server, but you can add exceptions if you don’t want everything to go through.
Thankfully, Astrill lets you do that the other way around, too. You can set up the filters to only use the VPN connection for certain applications, which is helpful if you’re trying to access geoblocked content, for example.
Filtering allows you to maintain your full internet connection when you need it. For instance, you can filter out multiplayer games on your machine, so you don’t have to worry about slow speeds getting in the way of the experience. You could also just use one of our best VPN for gaming.
This feature is better known as split tunneling, which is fairly uncommon among VPNs. Most can support it, but the process is rather intensive — read our Private Internet Access review for an example. Furthermore, the providers that support it, like StrongVPN, are fairly mediocre (read our StrongVPN review to see why it’s not the best choice).
On Windows desktops, you can use OpenVPN, StealthVPN or OpenWeb. Astrill supports almost every other major VPN protocol, too, but it’s device dependent. OpenWeb and StealthVPN are protocols developed by Astrill and add extra features to the application.
OpenWeb, for example, adds a “tunnel browser only” option to the menu. It’s a quick way to filter what you’re doing while using internet-connected applications without worrying about speeds. OpenWeb also comes with an ad and tracking blocker.
You can share your VPN connection with other devices, too. Basically, you add a proxy to your existing connection. Astrill has applications for most devices, but VPN sharing expands the list to anything with an internet connection, including smart TVs, gaming consoles and streaming devices such as Apple TV.
Astrill comes with a killswitch that will cut your internet connection if it’s disconnected from the remote server. If you’re using OpenVPN as your protocol, you can also set up App Guard, which will block apps you specify when the VPN is off.
The setting shows up for StealthVPN, too, but, oddly, not OpenWeb.
Astrill Streaming Performance
Astrill successfully bypassed the dreaded Netflix proxy error without issues. It got into Hulu, too, but it was blocked by BBC iPlayer on three of the U.K. servers. There are five in total, but two of them were down during our testing, which puts Astrill behind our best VPN for BBC iPlayer services.
It had problems with Amazon Prime Video, too. We could access it and view the content, but were met with a “content is not available in your area” message when we tried to stream anything. Netflix is the big dog, though, so we can’t complain too much.
Astrill Features Overview
Astrill is one of the more expensive VPN options, even if you prepay for the year. The monthly plan’s price is horrendous, costing $5 more than most other providers’ monthly rates. For five devices, we’re not impressed.
|Plan||One Month||Six Months||One Year|
$ 15 90monthly
$ 69 906 months
$ 99 90yearly
|Bandwidth||Unlimited GB||Unlimited GB||Unlimited GB|
As usual, we don’t recommend a monthly plan. CyberGhost, for example, offers a plan that supports up to seven simultaneous connections for half the cost. You can learn more about it in our CyberGhost review.
Astrill’s semi-annual and annual plans are good, though. ExpressVPN, which we rated highly in our ExpressVPN review, is the same price for those two terms, but limited to three simultaneous connections. That said, Astrill’s monthly plans are more expensive.
Astrill offers a generous seven-day free trial. AirVPN, on the other hand, only offers three (read our AirVPN review). You don’t need to put a credit card on file, but you can use the service for seven days free of charge even if you’re purchasing a plan. The free trial is, oddly, not offered in China, though.
If you’re looking for a free option, make sure to read our guide on the best free VPN providers, though we’ll spoil it and let you know that Windscribe is probably the best option out there (you can learn why in our Windscribe review).
There are no multi-year plans, which is an issue we’ve seen with multiple VPN providers. Offering a biennial or triennial plan allows loyal users to get a better value by paying upfront. NordVPN, for example, lets you sign up for 75 months for under $100 (read our NordVPN review).
Astrill offers VPN extras when you checkout. You can add as many private IP addresses as you want for $5 each per month, a router with Astrill preinstalled and a VIP addition for $10 per 100GB per month that allows you to use a multi-hop connection and gives you priority traffic on servers.
There’s a $50 router, too, but it’s mediocre at best. It’s single band and missing a gigabit ethernet port. You can buy the Netgear R6400, a popular choice for VPN routers, for $219, but at twice the cost of buying the router stock, it’s probably better to set up Astrill on your router yourself.
Astrill is small and simple, almost to a fault. The interface takes up little to no real estate on the screen, which is good for monitoring your speeds, but bad for configuring the application. We did our testing on a 4K display, so it makes sense that the UI would be smaller. That said, adjusting our screen resolution to 1080p didn’t make it much bigger.
That is Astrill’s main issue. It’s a pain to get to the different settings you want to access because everything is so compact. Allowing the user to resize the UI would go a long way. It would keep the small look when you want to monitor speeds and let you expand the UI for a more comfortable configuration when needed.
The same goes for server selection. To be blunt, it sucks. The list is just as small as the rest of the interface and you’ll have to scroll through to see all your options. Astrill makes it less painful with a search bar and a “big” servers menu, but it’s still not a pleasant experience.
Thankfully, you can trim the list by adding favorites. The server selection screen has three tabs: “recommended,” “favorites” and “all.” Going through the process of selecting the servers you’re going to use from the beginning will make switching between them much easier.
You can also right-click in the UI to find the most popular servers and connect that way.
Despite the issues in server selection and configuration, Astrill has a simple interface. The main screen shows you the server you’re connected to, a large “on” button and a graph of your speeds. No matter where you are in the UI, you can select the VPN protocol you want to use by opening the drop-down menu at the top.
All other features are accessed through the three dashes in the top left corner. The main issue is trying to set up what you need without a resizable window. For most settings, such as DNS options, it isn’t a big deal. That said, the small window can easily get crowded when trying to add exceptions to the filter list.
Astrill isn’t difficult to use, especially after you’ve configured it, but getting through the interface is terrible because it’s too small. The ability to resize the window would make a big difference and propel Astrill’s UI to being one of the best on the market.
Astrill can support up to five connections at once, no matter what plan you choose. That’s not a device limit, though. You can install Astrill on as many devices as you want, but only five can connect at the same time.
You can’t increase the limit like you can with TorGuard, though, so you may need to look elsewhere if you want more than five connections (read our TorGuard review).
There are installers for Windows, macOS and Linux, including CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora and more. Astrill offers a command line installer for Linux, too, if you’re not using one of those operating systems.
Astrill supports iOS through the App Store and Android through the Google Play store. If you’re using a modified version of Android that doesn’t have access to the Play Store, Astrill may not work on your device. Unfortunately, the service doesn’t offer the .apk on its own.
You can install Astrill on your router as long as its flashed with DD-WRT or Asus Merlin. Routers can only use OpenVPN and RouterPro, but TCP and UDP are both supported. Unlike other router setups, Astrill’s is very simple and it lets you configure features such as device filtering in your router settings.
Astrill has 328 servers in 65 countries. It’s no surprise that the U.S. gets the majority of attention, with 137 servers dedicated to it. Most other countries have a handful of servers at best. The exceptions are Japan, which has 29, and the UK, which has 16.
In the UI, you’ll also see “optimized” servers. Connecting to one of them provides a faster connection, but you’ll need to purchase the $10 per month VIP add-on with your plan to do so.
We tested five locations with Astrill using speedtest.net, noting the latency, download speed and upload speed. It performed well, particularly with download speeds, but, unsurprisingly, latency and upload speeds suffered over long distances from testing location, which was St. Louis, MO.
|Location:||Ping (ms):||Download (Mbps):||Upload (Mbps):|
|Los Angeles, CA||65||65.95||10.30|
Still, Astrill is impressive, though it missed out fastest VPN guide. Even when connecting across the pond, we maintained around 70 percent of our unprotected upload speed. The worst performer was Iran, which struggled to keep 10 percent.
Download speeds are excellent across the board. Our testing in Russia and Japan actually increased our download speed, which suggests some amount of internet service provider throttling. As with upload speeds, Iran was the worst performer, but still kept around 40 percent of our normal speed.
Latency is rough, though. Activities such as online gaming will be a struggle with Astrill. Thankfully, you can add exceptions for online games.
Filtering is what makes Astrill’s speeds shine. Normal web browser is a non issue, as Astrill puts up impressive results for download rates.
Anything that’s upload- or latency-heavy can be added as an exception, meaning you can use your full internet speed without disconnecting from the server.
Astrill offers a long list of VPN protocols, two of which are exclusive to it. You have the standard fare of OpenVPN, PPTP, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2/IPSec and, oddly, Cisco IPSec, which is a modification of IKEv1/IPSec made by Cisco and Microsoft. Ironically, Windows doesn’t support Cisco IPSec.
For security, OpenVPN is the best option, as it’s an open source protocol that’s regularly scanned for vulnerabilities and patched. It also supports almost any encryption method you could want.
Unsurprisingly, Astrill recommends its own protocols, StealthVPN and OpenWeb. The latter is a lightweight, connectionless protocol, which means you can switch servers quickly. It’s based on TCP and encrypted using 256-bit AES, making it difficult to be detected by deep packet inspection.
StealthVPN is similar to OpenVPN in that it works on UDP and TCP ports and obscures packets, making it an ideal choice to get by firewalls (comparable to VyprVPN’s Chameleon protocol, which you can read more about in our VyprVPN review). It’s encrypted with AES 256-bit and authenticated with SSL/TLS certificates. Like OpenVPN, it looks and behaves like a normal secured connection, so it’s about as stable as one.
OpenVPN’s open source nature makes it an ideal choice for many devices, including routers, so it’s really a matter of personal preference. StealthVPN has the advantage of using dual layer encryption.
Astrill has privacy settings, including the ability to flush cookies. You can also turn on the killswitch, which will block your internet connection in the event the VPN fails.
We tested leaks using ipleak.org. Astrill passed our tests for DNS, WebRTC and IP leaks. Between that and the killswitch, the VPN is safe to use.
Astrill is a company registered in the Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean. It claims that it’s “focused mostly towards travelers and expats, who use Astrill VPN service for encrypted and unrestricted Internet access at any time and place.”
The location says a lot about privacy. Seychelles is one of the most private places in the world, being a small group of islands off the coast of East Africa, but the government has no single law that addresses collection and use of personal data.
The previous 20 connections are kept on record, which includes connection time, duration, country, device type and Astrill version number. Despite the “no-logs” claim, there is information on record, even if it would be difficult to tie back to you.
Even though your personal information isn’t kept, Astrill can and does monitor it. There’s justification for doing so, though. In this case, that’s ensuring the number of devices connecting is below the limit, but the service doesn’t say that it takes steps to anonymize you at its servers.
It’s important to note that Astrill can see who is connecting, but, as far as we can tell, not how they’re using the service. Personally identifiable information is tracked, but not kept on record, which lives up to the “no-logs” claim.
Astrill doesn’t mess around with support. Instead of directing you through a knowledgebase and list of FAQs to find a contact email, it lets you get a hold of it from the support page. It offers live chat, which you can open by clicking on the small circle in the bottom right corner of any Astrill page, and email support.
Astrill offers phone support, too, with numbers in the U.S. and Hong Kong, but operators can only support customers who speak English.
We received a response to an emailed question in about two hours, which is quick. Our email was sent midday in the U.S. on a weekday, though, so you may have a lengthier wait if you send your message late at night or on the weekend.
For DIY support, you get a FAQ, setup manuals and video tutorials. The setup manuals are extensive and part of Astrill’s separate wiki. They include almost any question you could have about configuring a VPN with any given OS. Astrill even has guides for setting up BlackBerry phones with IKEv2.
The FAQ is basic. It covers questions such as the different plans Astrill offers and protocols you can connect with. This area seems more focused on presale questions than technical issues.
Astrill offers four video tutorials, which are more like overviews. There are videos for the desktop application, router applet, DD-WRT setup and an overview of what a VPN is and how Astrill works. That isn’t exactly support, but the videos could clarify areas of the UI if you’re having problems.
While there are desktop and router walkthroughs, there are no videos for the applications on Android or iOS.
Astrill doesn’t offer the traditional knowledgebase most other VPN providers do. The information that would be in one is there, though, just spread across the FAQ and wiki.
Still, the best option is direct support. Usually, it’s the other way around, which is a breath of fresh air, if lopsided. We wanted more troubleshooting guides and a community forum to fill out the support system, though.
Astrill is a fast, expensive VPN with a generous free trial. The interface is infuriating due to its size, but the service is good otherwise. Switching servers is quick, the download speeds are excellent and it gets past Netflix, too.
The strongest point of Astrill is its features. The filtering is great for casual VPN usage in which you’re concerned about privacy, but not at the cost of half or more of your internet connection. We like the proprietary protocols, too, but OpenVPN suffices in most cases.
Astrill is a fine choice for a VPN and the filtering options set it apart. Still, there are other options that may suit you better. Make sure to read through our VPN reviews to learn more about them.
What do you think of Astrill? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.