Shellfire VPN 2019

Shellfire VPN is a service that seems to think highly of itself, but once you pop open the hood fails spectacularly. Between the ugly interface, the slow speeds and the iffy security, we recommend that shoppers look elsewhere. Read our Shellfire review for the dirty details.

By Brian Murray
— Last Updated: 13 Apr'18
2017-05-06T03:38:49-08:00
Table of Contents Rating
Features
30%
Terrible
Pricing
75%
Good
Ease of Use
30%
Terrible
Speed
50%
Poor
Security
50%
Poor
Privacy
30%
Terrible
Streaming Performance
50%
Poor
Server Locations
50%
Poor
Customer Service
50%
Poor
User Reviews & Comments

Poor
Starts from $ 396 per month
Visit Shellfire VPN
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From beginning to end, using Shellfire VPN is unpleasant. We had to uninstall our antivirus to run the client and the service’s privacy policy is written in indecipherable legal speak.

There’s an utter lack of features, the settings menu has almost nothing in it and the desktop client’s interface is outdated and busy. Speeds are inconsistent and there’s a woeful lack of servers, even if they’re well-distributed globally.

If you want to hear us lament what it took just to get this virtual private network running for this Shellfire VPN review, read on for a good laugh at our expense. When you’re done, though, head to our best VPN list to find a usable VPN.

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths:

  • Servers on 6 continents
  • Responsive browsing
  • Free plan

Weaknesses:

  • Deceitful privacy policy
  • No killswitch
  • Encryption determined by server
  • Only 1 simultaneous connection
  • Flagged by antivirus & Windows Defender

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Features

30% - Terrible

We’ll begin this section by looking at the features Shellfire VPN offers, then we’ll talk about where it’s lacking.

Shellfire VPN gives you the option to not only run the VPN at start-up but also connect straight to your preferred server. That‘s it for the features.

Now, let’s address Shellfire VPN’s shortcomings. Shockingly, there’s no killswitch. We’ll discuss it in more detail in the “security” section, but a killswitch is usually considered a critical feature. Without one, there’ll be a window where you’re not protected at all if your computer or VPN loses connection.


There’s no split tunneling, either, which is a useful feature for those who want to control which programs use the VPN’s protected connection and which ones don’t. There’s also no malware blocker, but we’d suggest checking out our best antivirus software roundup rather than using a VPN-integrated one anyway.

Though there’s an application for all the major platforms, including Windows, macOS, iOS and Android, Shellfire VPN lacks in this area, as well. You can’t run it on a regular router, but must instead purchase a special Shellfire Box. There are no browser extensions, either.


Shellfire VPN is also lacking when it comes to encryption options because they’re bound to the server you choose rather than any setting you have power over. Your choice of protocol is also limited, including only OpenVPN UDP or TCP.

If you’re looking for a feature-rich VPN, Shellfire VPN isn’t it. We suggest heading to our Astrill review because Astrill offers robust split tunneling support and a killswitch, among other “nice to have” features.

Shellfire VPN Features Overview

Starts from$ 396per month

General

Payment methods
PayPal, Credit card, bank transfer, Sofort, Pay-per-phone
Accepts cryptocurrency
Simultaneous connections
1
Supports split tunneling
Unlimited bandwidth
Free trial available
Refund period
14 days
Worldwide server amount
63 servers, 37 countries
Desktop OSes
Windows, MacOS
Mobile OSes
Android, iOS
Browser extensions
Can be installed on routers

Streaming

Can access Netflix US
Can access BBC iPlayer
Can access Hulu
Can access Amazon Prime Video

Security

Encryption types
128-AES, 256-AES, 192-AES
VPN protocols available
OpenVPN, TCP,
Enabled at device startup
Allows torrenting
No-logging policy
Passed DNS leak test
Killswitch available
Malware/ad blocker included

Support

Live Chat
N/A
Email support
24/7
Phone support
User forum
Knowledgebase

Pricing

75% - Good

Shellfire VPN offers a premium plan with three options: monthly, annually, and biennially. The pricing on the monthly plan is reasonable and could even be a good deal. That said, aside from the VPN lacking in features, and in other ways that we’ll explore later, the premium plan doesn’t offer much functionality.

Free
  • 3 servers only (128-bit encryption)
  • 1000 GB Bandwidth
  • 1 Included Devices
Monthly
  • All servers
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • 1 Included Devices
Yearly
  • All servers
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • 1 Included Devices
1-year plan $ 5.30 / month
$63.66 billed every year
2 Years
  • All servers
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • 1 Included Devices
2-year plan $ 3.96 / month
$95.16 billed every 2 years

Shellfire VPN points out on the help page that you can install the client on as many devices as you like. Only one device may be connected at any time, though, and the only way to avoid that limitation is to buy the Shellfire Box router.

As for payment options, you get the standard choices of credit card and PayPal, along with a couple of unusual ones. You can pay using Sofort, which is a German website, via a direct bank transfer or by phone. In places scattered across the website, Shellfire VPN says it accepts Bitcoin, but that seems outdated because there’s no option for it during checkout.

Despite the affordability of the monthly plan, for less than a dollar a month more, you could sign up for Windscribe. If you read our Windscribe review, you’ll find that not only does it support up to 10 connections, but it also sports advantages over Shellfire VPN in almost every other category while still being similarly priced on a monthly basis.

For those interested in signing up for a VPN for longer periods, Shellfire VPN’s pricing starts to lose its advantage. Windscribe offers cheaper plans for annual and biennial subscribers than Shellfire VPN does.

Finally, Shellfire VPN also offers a free plan that gives you access to three servers. Their speeds are capped at 1 megabit per second and they use AES-128 encryption. Though that isn’t a bad foundation for a free plan, it isn’t worth trying. We have a roundup of the best free VPN services for those interested in trying a VPN without having to spend a dime.

Ease of Use

30% - Terrible

Last time we looked at Shellfire VPN, we gave it a score of 70 percent for ease of use. That judgment boiled down to the fact that the interface wasn’t intrusive and didn’t have too much going on. This time was a different story.

As soon as we downloaded the client from Shellfire VPN’s website, our antivirus went into high alert. When we tried to run the program and install the client, we were told the installer was a Win32:MdeClass, which is a type of trojan. Despite the desperate pleas of our antivirus, we pressed on.


Once we uninstalled our antivirus, Windows told us we didn’t have the authority on our own computer to run the installer. That’s because the client was trying to alter configuration files that require superuser access. After jumping through more hoops and turning off Windows Defender, we got the installer to run. We don’t advise doing that, but, as experts, we made the sacrifice.


Once the client was installed, we were greeted with an ugly interface that looked like it’d be more at home on Windows 95. Lines of text clutter the top of the screen with superfluous information. Some of the interface was even in German, despite the language being set to “Englisch,” but that worked itself out over time somehow.

The disastrous setup process means that we can’t suggest anyone try to install this client on their computer, and we’re going to be giving our machine a deep scrub once this review is completed. For those in search of a user-friendly VPN, check out our CyberGhost review.

Speed

50% - Poor

When looking at the list of servers in Shellfire VPN’s client, you’ll notice that each one is given a two to five-star rating for security and a one to five-star rating for speed. For consistency, we only tested servers labeled as five stars for security and speed. That means they should be encrypted with AES 256-bit.

Location:Ping (ms)Download (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)
Unprotected (Virginia)1472.225.78
United States4867.795.47
Germany13167.564.06
Iceland12722.694.58
Chile1471.390.1
Singapore24230.440.00

Our first two locations were Germany and the U.S., which performed well and lived up to the five-star ratings they received.

Moving to Iceland, we saw our first big hit in speed, losing more than two-thirds of our download bandwidth, despite the fact that the server should’ve had the same encryption and five-star speed as the others.


Chile was even worse, with a mere 1.39 Mbps download speed and an embarrassing 0.1 Mbps upload speed.

Finally, when connecting to Singapore, for the first time, we saw a 0.00 Mbps result on the upload speed. Plus, it crashed once the test was finished. That was repeatable. We ran the test three times to confirm it.


Despite having no detectable upload speed, we were able to browse the web without much trouble when connected to Singapore.

Shellfire VPN took about 10 seconds to establish a connection, regardless of which server we chose, but once connected, browsing wasn’t terrible.

That said, the servers are inconsistent and download performance couldn’t be farther from the numbers you’ll find on our fastest VPN list. If you’re looking for the best way to reduce ping times, though, we suggest looking at our best VPN for gaming article instead.

Security

50% - Poor

As mentioned while looking at Shellfire VPN’s features, one of the most glaring omissions is a killswitch, which would cut off all traffic when the VPN loses connection. That prevents data from leaking while the VPN is down, which can often happen without you noticing. The absence of the feature hurts the security of Shellfire VPN in a significant way.

When it comes to protocols, OpenVPN is your only option, but you can toggle between UDP and TCP, which can be useful for troubleshooting connection instability. If you’re interested in learning more about VPN protocols, you can do so by reading our VPN protocol breakdown.

Encryption can’t be changed in the client but is instead determined by the server you choose. As mentioned in the “speed” section, the servers are given two stars for security, meaning AES-128 is used when connecting, three stars to indicate that AES-192 is used or five stars to show that AES 256-bit is used.

Improvements have been made, though. Last time we looked at Shellfire VPN, there were significant DNS leaks, but when we tested it this time, we weren’t able to find any. DNS leaks are serious and can result in your information falling into malicious hands, even when tunneling with a VPN, so this is a significant improvement.

Though the protocols and encryptions forced upon you are good, it’s nice to have consistent encryption and a choice of protocol. Also, a killswitch is essential for security. For those looking for a secure VPN that gives you ample protocol options, we recommend reading our ExpressVPN review. It offers several protocols and uses the strongest encryption, AES 256-bit.

Privacy

30% - Terrible

On the homepage of Shellfire VPN’s website, you can scroll down to find that it claims it doesn’t log connection data. Once you go to the privacy statement, though, it seems that that’s an outright lie.

The privacy statement, if printed, would be a whopping 19 pages and uses dense legal language. There’s constant reference to the German legal code, which is strict about how companies handle personal data, but the references are mostly legal justifications for Shellfire VPN to log your data.

On the list of data being processed, one of the categories is usage data, and one of the examples given for that category is visited websites. That’s a worst case scenario for VPN users and the inclusion of it in a privacy policy should drive away potential customers.

It also seems that the privacy policy was written in German and translated in Google, making it difficult to determine what’s being done with some of the data. The wording seems intentionally confusing and the length is unacceptable.

If you look at NordVPN’s privacy policy, you’ll see that it’s less than a third as long and written in direct language. The scope of the information being collected and processed is basically limited to an email address and payment information. You can read more about the exceptional privacy policy in our NordVPN review

Streaming Performance

50% - Poor

In an odd twist, all of Shellfire VPN’s servers had comparable streaming performance, despite their varying sustained download speeds on paper. That is, if the VPN was able to access streaming services. During our testing, none of the major streaming websites, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and BBC iPlayer, allowed us to stream.

Instead, we did our testing on YouTube and Twitch to see what kind of performance could be had if the VPN slipped past one of those company’s proxy detection. Every server we tried, even the ones that were molasses slow on paper, was able to get YouTube and Twitch running in a few seconds at 1080p.

That decent streaming performance is squandered because you can’t get through the major streaming services’ VPN denial systems. If you’re trying to circumvent this VPN ban, read our best VPN for Netflix article.

Server Locations

50% - Poor

Shellfire VPN spreads its servers out well to service a wide variety of customers. Its 63 servers are spread throughout 37 countries on six continents, which is a decent distribution. The total number of locations and servers is lackluster, though.

To give context to that number, as you can read in our HideMyAss review, HideMyAss is the No. 1 provider in terms of server locations, boasting roughly 1,000 servers in 280 locations. Even most middle-of-the-road providers offer at least 50 locations.

Customer Service

50% - Poor

Shellfire VPN’s website has what seems to be a live chat feature, but when you click it, you’ll find that nobody’s home and you’ll have to send an email. We’ve waited on the website for several days, refreshing every time we noticed the tab and checking whenever we could. Nobody ever came.

It takes about 36 hours to hear back from emails, and the answers you get are friendly but straightforward and rudimentary. There’s no phone line or forum, and the knowledgebase only answers about a dozen basic VPN questions.  

The Verdict

Many VPNs make the design choice to sacrifice features in favor of a more streamlined and user-friendly experience. Shellfire VPN has neither of those aspects and is a hassle to use while still effectively offering no features.

To add insult to injury, the customer service is on the slow side and the on-site knowledgebase is limited. The final nail in the coffin, though, is the questionable privacy policy.

We urge you to head to our full list of VPN reviews to learn about the amazing VPNs on the market. We assure you the difference will be night and day.

If you have experiences with Shellfire VPN, leave a comment below, and, as always, thanks for reading.

Shellfire VPN Review

Slow, insecure and ugly, this VPN rates "pass"

Shellfire VPN is a service that seems to think highly of itself, but once you pop open the hood fails spectacularly. Between the ugly interface, the slow speeds and the iffy security, we recommend that shoppers look elsewhere. Read our Shellfire review for the dirty details.
Starts from$ 396per month
Visit Shellfire VPN

One thought on “Shellfire VPN”

  1. I cannot recommend Shellfire VPN at all. Their customer service is non existent.

    I could not get the product to work consistently with my laptop. The mobile app would connect for a few seconds before disconnecting automatically. The only response I ever received from Shellfire was telling me how wonderful they are and if I needed any further assistance, not to hesitate to contact them but what is the point when they don’t answer the original question?! After around three or four emails they simply stopped responding altogether.

    I ended up buying another VPN from a company that knows what they are doing.

    My advice is save yourself time and frustration and spend your money elsewhere.

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Shellfire VPN Review

Slow, insecure and ugly, this VPN rates "pass"

Shellfire VPN is a service that seems to think highly of itself, but once you pop open the hood fails spectacularly. Between the ugly interface, the slow speeds and the iffy security, we recommend that shoppers look elsewhere. Read our Shellfire review for the dirty details.
Starts from$ 396per month
Visit Shellfire VPN
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