Shellfire seems to have improved somewhat since our last Shellfire VPN review, but it’s still miles away from receiving our seal of approval. It improved its speeds a bit, as well as its ability to access geoblocked content, such as streaming sites.
With all that out in the open, it may save you some time to head over to our best VPNs roundup, or even just go straight to our top-rated pick, ExpressVPN. However, if you’re feeling curious and would like to see where Shellfire went wrong, then read on.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Solid protocols & encryption
- Free plan
- Unappealing interface
- No debit & credit cards
- Unreliable speeds
- Poor streaming performance
Shellfire VPN has one of the most sparse options menus of any VPN we’ve looked at. There are only a half dozen check boxes and a dropdown menu that lets you select between three languages. The first two checkboxes are selected by default, which makes the software remember your login info and login automatically.
Below this is the option to “save VPN choice,” which makes the software remember the last server you used. You can have the software start automatically when you boot up your computer, and you can also tell it to connect to the VPN automatically on startup.
Lack of Features
Although connecting automatically on startup is great and can help improve security, the lack of a kill switch is a glaring omission. Without a kill switch you can lose your connection to the VPN without realizing it and easily continue broadcasting sensitive information on an unsecured connection.
In addition to the lack of a kill switch, Shellfire is also missing any kind of split tunneling, which you can read more about in our ExpressVPN review. Split tunneling allows you to choose which programs use the protected VPN connection and which ones use a normal unprotected internet connection.
Shellfire VPN is severely lacking when it comes to features and doesn’t even cover what we would consider the essentials. The final thing worth touching on in this section is not actually a feature of the VPN software, but something that Shellfire sells.
Shellfire offers what it calls a “Shellfire box,” which connects to your router and gives all of your devices a protected connection. You still have to pay for a Shellfire subscription for the box to work, though.
Although this may seem like a great, convenient solution for protecting all your devices, most VPN services can actually be manually set up on your router without too much trouble.
Shellfire VPN Features Overview
|Payment methods||PayPal, bank transfer|
|Supports split tunneling|
|Free trial available|
|Worldwide server amount||52 servers in 37 countries|
|Desktop OSes||Windows, MacOS|
|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||128-AES, 256-AES, 192-AES|
|VPN protocols available||OpenVPN|
|Enabled at device startup|
|Passed DNS leak test|
|Malware/ad blocker included|
For starters, Shellfire VPN offers a free plan that allows unlimited bandwidth on a small number of servers. The free servers are all located in either the U.S. or Germany and are limited to speeds of 1Mbps.
The free servers are also limited to AES-128 bit encryption, but despite all that, unlimited bandwidth for free is still a pretty generous offer; check out our ProtonVPN review for another VPN service that offers limitless free bandwidth.
Moving on to the paid plans, Shellfire VPN offers a single plan with three time frame options. You can purchase a monthly plan, an annual plan or a two year plan, with each one providing a progressive discount.
The monthly plan comes in at nearly $11.95 a month, meaning it competes in price with some of the more expensive high-end VPN providers. If you take a look at our Mullvad review, you can see that it costs nearly half of one month of Shellfire, and it offers much better features.
The 12-month plan brings the per-month cost down to $7.58, while the 24-month option brings this down even further to a manageable $5.66 per month. While these prices are more reasonable, they’re still pretty steep for what you’re getting. Compare these prices to our Private Internet Access review, where its yearly plan comes out to only $3.33 a month.
On top of the steep pricing, Shellfire VPN’s website offers very limited payment options. You cannot checkout with standard credit or debit cards; instead you must use either PayPal, bank transfer or crypto.
Finally, Shellfire has a 14-day money-back guarantee. While this is better than nothing, it still fails to meet the 30-day money-back guarantee that has become something of an industry standard with many VPN providers.
Ease of Use
To put it bluntly, Shellfire’s interface is ugly. The first screen you see is simply a connection screen that offers some information about your VPN connection, such as how long you’ve been connected and to where.
On the left side of the window there are four tabs that let you move to a server list, a map and a page that has a list of links to popular streaming websites. The server list does not seem to be organized in any particular way.
The countries are not alphabetized or grouped by region, and some countries have the wrong flag, such as Switzerland having a German flag next to it. There is not even a search function to help you find what you need.
Thankfully, there is a map page that slightly makes up for the chaotic layout of the server list. The final tab, as we mentioned, is quite literally just a list of streaming sites that you can click to open in your browser.
What’s also strange is that when we first started using the software, several of the buttons were in German, even though “Englisch” was the selected language. At some point when we weren’t looking this seems to have sorted itself out though.
Overall, the software is an unappealing mess. Check out our NordVPN review for a look at a highly user-friendly interface.
Shellfire’s speed varied significantly from one location to another. Speeds in the U.S. were pretty great, as were the download speeds in Brazil. The UK and Germany, however, suffered greatly, with Japan falling somewhere in between.
The U.S., Brazil and Japan servers all felt good to use. Websites loaded very quickly and there were no problems playing videos in HD. Germany and the UK, however, were noticeably sluggish. Videos would buffer for a few seconds before being able to play, but they would ultimately play without a problem.
Although all the servers we tested were reasonably usable, the inconsistent speeds from location to location — and the very low speeds we saw in Europe — could be an issue for some, especially if you plan to download large files or torrent on your VPN. For those looking for the best speeds possible, be sure to have a look at our fastest VPNs roundup.
For the most part, Shellfire VPN locks you into a single protocol and the encryption in use is determined by the server you select. Although you can select between UDP and TCP at the bottom of the server page, both of these are forms of the OpenVPN protocol.
As we mentioned, encryption is determined by which server you choose. In the server list each server has a star rating for “security” next to its name. Servers with only two stars will use AES-128, while three stars will use 192-bit and five-star servers will use 256-bit encryption.
If you look at our VPN protocol breakdown, you’ll see that — for now — OpenVPN is widely considered the golden standard when it comes to VPN privacy, with WireGuard quickly catching up.
When these protocols are paired with AES-256 encryption, this forms a solid foundation for online privacy and security. As we would expect with this powerful combination, we weren’t able to find any DNS or IP leaks during our testing.
That said, Shellfire VPN fails to go the extra mile and doesn’t offer WireGuard or a proprietary protocol, like we saw in our VyprVPN review with its unique Chameleon protocol.
This kind of data collection crosses a line that no VPN provider should, and it immediately rules Shellfire out as a VPN we can ever recommend if you’re concerned about your online privacy.
Shellfire VPN was hit-or-miss when it came to streaming. Amazon Prime Video and Hulu both blocked our connection and told us to turn off our VPN. However, Netflix did not block us, and we were able to get in and watch things without a problem.
Using a UK server, we were also able to access BBC iPlayer without any issue. However, as we mentioned in the speed section, things would take a moment to actually load. Once the initial buffering was completed, though, everything went smoothly.
For those looking to unblock all streaming sites more reliably, be sure to check out our best VPN for Hulu or best VPN for Amazon Prime Video articles.
Shellfire offers 64 servers spread out in 37 countries. Although the distribution around the globe is reasonably good for such a small number of servers, the scope of the server network is a bit of a problem.
In comparison, HideMyAss has over 1,000 servers spread out across more than 190 countries. Larger server networks can service large numbers of people more easily without suffering a hit to performance, which means the Shellfire VPN network might struggle if there was a spike in traffic.
Shellfire does not offer live chat, and the “help” button on its website and within the VPN itself both lead to an FAQ page that offers answers to a handful of common and basic questions. There is a contact page, though, which allows you to fill out a form and hope to hear back.
Hearing back usually takes more than a day, so when it comes to customer service you’re mostly on your own with Shellfire.
We urge you to take a look around our site to find a VPN that would work better, as there are dozens of options out there that are better than this. If you’ve had your own experiences with Shellfire, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.