Key Takeaways: Astrill VPN Review
- Astrill VPN is an expensive VPN service that boasts some powerful features, but it’s held back by privacy issues.
- Unfortunately, signing up with Astrill requires a phone number, and the VPN tracks users via device fingerprinting.
- Astrill is a good streaming VPN that can unblock all major streaming services.
Astrill is a Liechtenstein-based VPN service that has been operating since 2009. Many of Astrill’s features are geared towards users who travel frequently and require some way to bypass local internet restrictions and monitoring. Therefore, many expats and visitors in China rely on this VPN to connect with their loved ones.
Astrill offers some powerful VPN functionality and a decent server network. Our recent tests have also shown that Astrill’s streaming performance has improved.
However, when comparing Astrill with top VPNs like ExpressVPN, which is the best VPN provider, some flaws still hold it back, including its expensive pricing. Additionally, there are still some privacy concerns when using this service. We’ll cover Astrill VPN’s pros and cons in detail below.
06/11/2023 Facts checked
We rewrote the article, retesting the VPN service in all categories; since our last Astrill VPN review, the service can access more streaming platforms.
Average speedDownload Speed91 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency6 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, PaymentWall
- : 5
Average speedDownload Speed94 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency6 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, Cash
- : 6
Average speedDownload Speed93 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency11 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : Unlimited
Average speedDownload Speed74 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency46 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin, Amazon Pay
- : 7
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, cash
- : 10
Astrill VPN Review: Pros & Cons
- App & site split tunneling
- Good encryption protocols
- Unlocks big streaming apps
- Good customization options
- Decent speeds
- Strong security protocols
- Overpriced plans
- No refunds
- No free version
Astrill comes packed with some powerful functions grouped in an easy-to-use menu. You get plenty of standard VPN features, plus a few extras, mostly focused on privacy.
Notably, it lets you customize your connection to a greater degree than most other VPNs, though most users won’t ever need to touch those settings. Despite this freedom for customization, there’s still no way to set Astrill up to automatically connect on launch.
Astrill also comes with a proxy setting if you only want to get through school or workplace restrictions. We still recommend using the VPN protocols, but proxies can be useful when you need faster speeds and a new IP address, but no encryption.
Kill Switch & Split Tunneling
Astrill’s basic features include an internet kill switch and split tunneling. The kill switch shuts off your connection if the VPN accidentally disconnects from a server. Cutting the connection prevents accidental data leaks.
Split tunneling lets you choose which apps use the VPN and which stay unprotected. It also works on a per-website basis, though you need to know the site’s IP address to add it to the list.
A feature called “app guard” blocks apps from working if the VPN is disconnected. Should you add Microsoft Edge to the app guard list, you’ll only be able to launch the browser after connecting to a VPN server. Guarding an app can help you avoid accidentally browsing the web unprotected.
Paying Extra: Multi-Hop Servers & Dedicated IP Addresses
By paying extra for the VIP add-on, users can enjoy added protection through the multi-hop feature. Your internet traffic will go through two servers instead of a single one. The traffic is encrypted throughout the connections as well. In countries that engage in active governmental surveillance, multi-hop VPN is useful for improved security.
You can also purchase a dedicated IP address when using Astrill. This means only you have access to the IP address, avoiding the potential of the “bad neighbor effect” when you share IP addresses with other users. Dedicated IP addresses are also helpful for businesses or when making online payments (you can read more in our best VPN with dedicated IP addresses guide).
Sharing Astrill VPN
Despite the words “unlimited simultaneous connections” appearing on the Astrill VPN website, you can only have five connections at once, and only one can be a router. The words are empty — unlike Surfshark VPN, which really does allow unlimited devices to initiate a VPN connection at once (read our Surfshark review).
Fortunately, Astrill has an advanced feature called “VPN sharing,” which turns your primary device into a hub, allowing any other devices connected to it to be protected. There aren’t any limits as to how many other computers or mobile devices can connect, so it’s technically unlimited, as long as the devices are in your household.
Astrill Features Overview
|Payment methods||PayPal, Credit card, Perfect Money, WeChat Pay, Direct Bank Transfers, Monero|
|Supports split tunneling|
|Free trial available|
|Worldwide server amount||300+|
|Desktop OSes||Windows, MacOS, Linux|
|Mobile OSes||Android, iOS|
|Can be installed on routers|
|Can access Netflix US|
|Can access BBC iPlayer|
|Can access Hulu|
|Can access Amazon Prime Video|
|Encryption types||256-AES, ChaCha20|
|VPN protocols available||OpenVPN, OpenWeb, StealthVPN, WireGuard|
|Enabled at device startup|
|Passed DNS leak test|
|Malware/ad blocker included|
At Cloudwards, we’ve reviewed many VPN services, and we can confidently say that Astrill is one of the most expensive VPNs available (read our best cheap VPN article if you want something more affordable).
Astrill VPN Price
One month of an Astrill subscription costs $30, more than twice the price of ExpressVPN’s monthly subscription. The annual plan goes for $15 monthly. As for the two-year subscription, expect to pay $12.50 per month.
Astrill VPN offers a private dedicated IP address at an extra $5 per month. You can also get “VIP access,” which grants faster speeds and multi-hop VPN functionality, costing $10 monthly.
We agree that Astrill provides many powerful features, but its competitors have shipped with better for far cheaper. For example, NordVPN and Surfshark are popular VPNs that match or exceed Astrill VPN’s features.
Astrill VPN Free Trial
The Astrill VPN seven-day free trial requires you to provide a phone number and email address to apply. Each phone number and email address can only get an Astrill free trial once.
If you successfully invite friends to get Astrill, you earn 30 days for free. The limit is four friends for a maximum of 120 extra days. However, you can only invite three friends each year.
Astrill accepts various payment methods like popular credit cards, PayPal, Perfect Money, WeChat Pay, AliPay, direct bank transfers, Bitcoin and Monero. You have to provide your phone number for Monero and Bitcoin, as mentioned on the checkout page.
No Refunds or Money-Back Guarantee
Astrill does not offer refunds or money-back guarantees, according to its refund policy. The page recommends you purchase the $30 month-long plan if you want to try it.
Ease of Use
Although Astrill’s apps have a relatively simple layout, they suffer from an outdated and cramped design, especially on desktop. The Astrill desktop app is primarily black and white, barely occupying a corner of the screen.
The Astrill VPN apps for PC and Android work very well, though we hope the VPN provider will update the Windows VPN client’s appearance. On the contrary, the Android app’s dark blue appearance stands out better. Both apps are responsive and easy to navigate, though the desktop app’s miniscule window will be a hindrance for some.
Astrill VPN Desktop App
Astrill VPN’s Windows app is tiny and tethered to the taskbar. There’s a large connect button above the server list, and you can also see a simple graph showing the upload and download speeds. It also shows your internet traffic in real time. The client stays on top of the screen by default, though you can turn the setting off if you prefer.
The server list is a dropdown menu, and we’re glad it has a search bar to help with locating specific Astrill servers.
The settings menu is in the top-left corner. Adjusting settings only takes a few clicks, and we find the layout to be reasonably convenient.
Astrill VPN Mobile App
The Astrill Android app resembles the Windows app, but without a graph showing your internet traffic. You have the large connect button to start a VPN session with, the VPN protocols menu, server menu and account expiry date. The security features are located in the top-right corner.
Unfortunately, the server list on the mobile apps doesn’t have a search bar, forcing users to scroll through the list to find a server.
One special setting on the Astrill VPN app for Android is the “battery optimization” option, which is a shortcut to your phone’s battery settings. Users can disable the phone’s “battery saver” mode, which can sometimes shut down inactive apps; turning this off means the VPN app won’t close by accident.
The mobile apps have fewer features, lacking site-based split tunneling, DNS options, a kill switch and ad blocking, among others.
Generally, we see Astrill VPN’s mobile apps as decent. However, they’ll need some optimization and reworking before they’re able to compete with top mobile apps like Surfshark’s and Proton VPN’s.
Astrill’s servers offer either 1Gbit or 10Gbit connections; not many providers volunteer this information. All of our speed tests are performed using Ookla’s Speedtest website. Since our tester is in Kenya, the results may differ a little from those running speed tests in the U.S. or elsewhere.
Astrill VPN Speed Test Results
The download speeds tend to be quite stable, and we’re impressed with how close they are to the unprotected speeds. Sadly, the upload speeds are a different story. They were adversely affected by distance, especially on the Argentinian server.
The U.S. and U.K. servers we tested were 10Gbit servers, and the readings are beyond impressive. We highly recommend connecting to one if it’s available in the country you want.
The latency readings are also very high, making Astrill VPN unsuitable for competitive games where reaction time and speed are necessary to win (read our best VPN for gaming article if you need a low-latency VPN).
We believe that Astrill VPN has decent speeds, but distance will introduce speed drops and latency spikes. Therefore, the closer you are to a selected location, the better your connection will be.
We deem Astrill VPN safe when it comes to encryption and VPN protocols. We tested Astill for DNS leaks and found none, confirming that Astrill VPN’s tunneling protocols work well.
Astrill VPN offers four protocols: OpenWeb, WireGuard, StealthVPN and OpenVPN. All protocols use AES-256 encryption, apart from WireGuard, which uses ChaCha20.
Our VPN protocol article has detailed explanations for all of these, except for OpenWeb and StealthVPN. That’s because the OpenWeb protocol was developed by Astrill in 2009. It’s a “connectionless protocol” that lets users swap between Astrill VPN’s servers rapidly.
StealthVPN is another proprietary protocol developed by Astrill and inspired by OpenVPN. StealthVPN was designed for extra bypassing capability, as it adds more obfuscation to your internet traffic. Astrill VPN claims that StealthVPN can let your browser traffic go through deep packet inspection. The protocol also supports port forwarding to help with torrenting.
Apart from the proprietary protocols, Astrill offers the secure open-source OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols.
Additionally, you can modify each protocol’s ports or mode if it’s supported. For example, you can choose between UDP and TCP StealthVPN and adjust the internet MTU value.
Finally, Astrill offers “smart mode,” which is a way to use the VPN without revealing the fact that you’re using a VPN. This is a good mode to enable if you need extra protection, for example, if you’re trying to access U.S. sites or apps from China or other restrictive countries.
Astrill disappoints regarding privacy. When you register for an account and pay using cryptocurrencies, Astrill VPN collects your phone number for verification purposes. This also applies to the seven-day free trial.
However, the provider will track information such as device type, Astrill app you’re using, connection session duration IP address, and total number of transferred bytes. All of this will be purged after you disconnect. Astrill doesn’t sell or share personal information with other parties to protect user privacy.
Note that Astrill stores the last 20 connection records, including Astrill app version number, connection time, country, device type and more — information that could be used for device fingerprinting. This data helps prevent people from getting unlimited free trials, even when using a new email address or phone number.
Many premium VPNs will keep this information to help improve customer support and identify problems. Astrill can’t identify you using this data since it doesn’t contain personal information.
When we last looked at Astrill, we couldn’t unblock some streaming services, but the company seems to have learned from these mistakes. This time, we were able to unblock everything on our list. We’re surprised at how effective Astrill is in this department now, though it’s still not one of the best streaming VPN options.
We did notice that, while we could unblock everything, the loading speeds were sometimes slower, such as on Hulu. You may have to refresh the page occasionally to log in, but it doesn’t usually take very long.
|Amazon Prime Video|
Can Astrill VPN Unblock Netflix?
Yes, Astrill can unblock Netflix easily. All you need to do is connect to the location you want to unblock and you can access your favorite shows.
Currently, Astrill VPN’s servers are in 113 cities in 57 countries. This is a lower number than our last review, which noted the number to be 114 cities across 64 countries. They have at least 300 servers at the time of writing. For a VPN with a larger spread, consider reading our Private Internet Access (PIA) review.
The server network includes basic servers, P2P-optimized servers (the ones with a star next to them) and “supercharged” servers — also called “optimized” or “for China” servers. These servers are optimized for Chinese users, offering U.S. IP addresses.
Don’t get this confused with Astrill’s Chinese servers, which VPN users can connect with to get a Chinese IP address. Note that these are physical servers in China, which could be a security and privacy concern (read our best VPN for China guide for more on that). In short, it’s better to use a virtual server for China so that the government can’t access those servers.
You can only enable port forwarding on starred servers.
Astrill’s VPN servers are all physically located in the listed locations, and no virtual servers are employed. If you’re interested, our physical vs virtual servers article can explain the differences.
After contacting customer support, we discovered that Astrill has physical servers in China. They may be a security risk as the Chinese government can seize them at any time.
Astrill has various ways for users to get help. Live chat is the best option, and we generally received assistance within 10 minutes, but waiting times will depend on the queue. Email support will take longer, so expect to wait for several hours.
There’s an Astrill VPN wiki page that contains instructions on setting up the app on various devices. There are also tutorials for other functions, such as configuring OpenVPN. The website has an FAQ page for those who need quick answers. If you need a video, visit this video tutorials page for Astrill VPN.
While we like the live chat customer support, the FAQs and email support are still lackluster. In particular, the FAQs need to be updated more often because they seem to contain some outdated information.
Our current review shows that Astrill VPN’s features remain the same, but its streaming performance has improved tremendously. Otherwise, it offers the same menu, features and interface. It works in China, too, coming with China-optimized servers. However, Astrill’s pricing is outrageously high and there are still some serious privacy issues.
What do you think about Astrill VPN? Do you know of another VPN that works in China? Let us know in the comments section below. As always, thanks for reading.
FAQ: Astrill VPN Review
Astrill VPN is an above-average VPN that works in China, but it also suffers from privacy problems and outrageous pricing. However, the Astrill VPN features are solid — though nothing you can’t get from other top VPN providers.
No. Astrill VPN is decent, but it can’t compare to ExpressVPN, especially when the latter has advanced features and remains user-friendly.
According to our sources in China, Astrill VPN is usually functional in the country. The VPN even offers “supercharged” servers for people in China.
Yes, Astrill VPN works with Netflix. It easily unblocks Netflix and grants access to shows in foreign libraries, all loading without significant lag, buffering or delay.
No, there is no free version of the Astrill VPN app. If you want a free VPN, there are a few trustworthy VPN providers that offer a free version; read our best free VPN guide for more information.