Astrill’s marketing team does a great job of advertising it as one of the best VPNs out there, especially in China — but are they telling the truth about how good it is?
I tested every feature and analyzed its privacy policies and security measures to see if it’s good enough to recommend. I also paid attention to its server network, speeds, torrenting support, gaming, streaming and finally made up my mind about it.
Astrill VPN has unique features that make it a good VPN for China, but I wouldn't recommend it for casual users in non-restrictive countries. Its China-optimized servers are secure, but outside of that, its network is small and unreliable. All of its many features make it a complicated app to navigate, and I had to troubleshoot technical issues more than once with customer support. I'd recommend checking out other VPNs if you want a simple and more reliable way to stay safe online.
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Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
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Astrill VPN Features — Updated in February 2023
Does VPN keep logs?
Number of servers
Number of devices per license
Based in country
Streaming – Works With Most Popular Platforms, but With a Lot of Effort
Astrill managed to unblock every streaming platform I tested, but only on specific servers. Most VPNs have specific streaming servers that unblock different streaming platforms, but with Astrill, everything’s a lottery. It doesn’t provide you with specialized streaming servers, and if you want to unblock a specific streaming platform you need to message the support team and hope to get a server recommendation. Since most of its locations don’t work at all, it’s hard to watch anything.
Before I started testing, I reached out to Astrill’s support team to see which server they recommend. After a series of questions, the customer support rep gave me a long tutorial mentioning that any US server will do with StealthVPN (a protocol developed by Astrill) — he didn’t give me a server, but an entire protocol. The StealthVPN protocol uses obfuscation, which makes your connection to the VPN invisible to firewalls and websites. This means that you can technically use it to bypass geoblocks. The problem is that even after following the tutorial, I couldn’t unblock any streaming platform using StealthVPN.
After trying to access Netflix and Hulu using the recommended settings, I reached out to its support team for a second time, and I was given a server — Dallas 1. I immediately connected to the server and accessed Netflix without any issues, but the other platforms couldn’t be unblocked. What I really didn’t like is that once I disconnected and reconnected to the same server, Netflix stopped working and recognized the VPN, leaving me under the impression that it’s incredibly unstable.
I played around with my settings and decided to try another protocol — OpenWeb. It’s more lightweight than StealthVPN, so it’s a little faster — which I hoped would give me the best picture quality. However, I was still disappointed: I had to work hard to find servers that could unblock streaming services. It took about 40 minutes to find a server that worked with Netflix — and I had to start from the beginning to find working servers for each platform.
Astrill couldn’t bypass Netflix’s geoblocks with the recommended StealthVPN protocol.
I find Astrill very confusing, and an overall waste of time. I spent over 5 hours unblocking these streaming services, going from protocol to protocol, and working my way through Astrill’s servers. You shouldn’t have to spend this much time figuring out such an expensive VPN, and it’s best to look for other services providing reliable connections.
Unblocked: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, ESPN, and HBO Max
I was able to watch movies on Amazon Prime, Netflix, and HBO Max on Astrill’s Los Angeles Supercharged – only with the OpenWeb protocol. Supercharged servers are supposed to give you lower latency and higher overall performance. However, I spent a lot of time trying to find a working server.
Astrill unblocked Netflix with the OpenWeb protocol.
Unblocking ESPN is complicated. On some servers, I could see the shows without being able to play them. On other servers, I’d loop back to the login screen every time I tried to watch something. The only server I could actually watch ESPN on is Chicago 1, and only with OpenWeb.
Disney+ was an adventure to unblock. After going through 30+ US servers on all 4 protocols, I discovered that I could unblock Disney+ on the Portland server using OpenWeb. The whole process was more than exhausting, and if I was simply trying to watch a show, I would have just quit.
What I found a little strange is that Astrill’s live agent claimed that no VPN can unblock Amazon Prime anymore — and told me that I should buy a private IP on Astrill’s Dallas 1 server. He explained that the platform can now detect multiple requests from the same IP address, and blocks those IPs. However, I unblocked it with Astrill’s OpenVPN protocol (and many other VPNs).
The only good news I had was that I could also unblock Hulu on the same Portland server. Only with the OpenWeb protocol, and no other server could unblock it.
Astrill Unblocked Every Platform I Tested Eventually
After a long period of trying and testing, Astrill managed to unblock every streaming platform I tested. However, I don’t recommend it at all. It does bypass all the geoblocks, but the process is incredibly long and complicated. On top of that, some servers don’t work at all – 5 of its UK servers couldn’t connect to any streaming platform.
If you’re looking for a streaming VPN, I recommend choosing one with specialized streaming servers and a large network, so the IP addresses don’t get blocked.
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Speeds – Inconsistent on Most Servers
Astrill’s speeds are generally good, but incredibly inconsistent. I ran tests on both local and international servers to see if distance made any difference. I used Ookla’s speed test tool and measured my:
- Ping – measures how fast you get a response from a website or app. It’s important in gaming, as a high ping usually means lag.
- Download speed – the time it takes to download files and information from the internet (this includes downloading images and streaming movies).
- Upload speed – the time needed to send files from your computer.
It’s normal for a VPN to slow down your connection a little, as your information needs to travel further away. It also takes time for it to be encrypted. However, there’s a huge difference between the speed tests I took (some were only a few minutes apart), which shows that Astrill is extremely unreliable.
I tested local Romanian servers in Brasov, Cluj, and Iasi and had huge differences in speeds
Astrill gives decent local speeds, but I encountered a lot of inconsistencies. It also has its own in-app speed testing tool, but for these tests, I used Speedtest by Ookla because of its reputation. Before I tested Astrill, I performed a speed test from my location in Romania to have something to compare it to. Without a VPN, I had 92.31 Mbps download, 68.44 Mbps upload, and 4 ms ping.
Most of the VPNs I’ve tested have a Best Location feature that automatically chooses the best server for you — but Astrill doesn’t. I had to scroll through the server list myself to find one nearby. This wasn’t hard, but it was annoying and I felt like it wasted my time. After connecting the VPN, my download speed decreased by 45% to 51.08 Mbps, and the upload speed decreased to 58.94 Mbps. The ping increased to 55 ms.
It’s normal to have a lower speed when you use a VPN, as it takes time to route your traffic through its servers, but you should only lose 10-20% of your speed with a good VPN (not 45%). This is where everything got interesting: While I was testing Astrill’s streaming performance, I realized that I was getting inconsistent results, so I conducted more tests.
|Without a VPN(Bucharest, Romania)
|Connected to local Brasov server
||51.08 Mbps (45% decrease)
||58.94 Mbps (14% decrease)
|Connected to local Cluj server
||70.58 Mbps (24% decrease)
||57.92 Mbps (15% decrease)
|Connected to local Iasi server
||43.23 Mbps (54% decrease)
||60.33 Mbps (12% decrease)
I tested the same server three times to see how the speed would change. Normally, the connection speed would stay relatively the same — but my results changed by up to 40% with each test. This means that when you’re using Astrill, your connection speed could be very fast one minute— and extremely slow the next. With other VPNs, I didn’t experience this issue; even if my speed went down 20%, it was consistent with every test.
Astrill VPN’s long-distance speeds provided me with a good connection, but it couldn’t keep it constant. I first connected to one of its servers in Los Angeles to see the difference, and I was not impressed. My download speed decreased by 43%, but it’s understandable since I connected to the other side of the world. Knowing that Astrill’s servers weren't very stable on local servers, though, I ran more tests using the same LA server.
On my second test, my speed decreased by 59%. Since I had a very fast speed to start with, I didn’t notice any difference to my online activity. However, if your network is not very fast, you may not be able to do much from an international server.
Using the same Los Angeles server, I had very different speeds each time I ran the test
Continuing my tests, I moved to Astrill’s UK servers. My speed went down about 57%, which is a lot. But again, once I changed some settings and switched protocols, my speeds changed too. I switched from StealthVPN to OpenVPN and my upload speed was actually 37% faster than my original one (which is pretty impressive!).
OpenWeb gave me better speeds than StealthVPN when I tested the London server
It's possible to get good speeds using Astrill VPN's servers, but the inconsistencies and need to change and test out different settings makes it a hassle to actually get them.
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Are Astrill VPN’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? Yes, but Only on Some Servers
Only Astrill’s local servers are fast enough for gaming. I couldn’t play anything on Astrill’s international servers because my connection was so slow, which is disappointing. On top of that, some servers didn’t seem to work at all. Because of these issues, I can’t recommend it as a VPN for gaming.
I tested both single and multiplayer games through Nvidia GeForce NOW. As a reference, you need at least 25 Mbps to play games at 60 fps. First, I connected to a US server to see if distance would affect my game quality. My lowest download speed was 38.09 Mbps, which led me to believe that gaming would be possible. However, after testing it with Nvidia’s tool, I realized it will never run a multiplayer online game because my ping was too high. Nvidia measures three values to see if your connection is good for gaming:
Astrill’s US servers can’t handle gaming
- Bandwidth – how much information you can send or receive on the network
- Packet loss – determines how much information you’re getting from in the transfer
- Latency/ping – the time it takes for data to be transmitted to your device
Even though my speed was great, my ping was way too high. In order to play an online game without lag, your ping shouldn’t exceed 50 ms, whereas Astrill’s US server had a ping of 361 ms. Both single and multiplayer games were impossible to play, as the connection kept dropping.
When I switched to a local server, the ping was lower and the speed was fast enough for gaming, so I didn’t have as many problems. Even though the ping was a little high, it still matched the requirements, and I managed to play a Fortnite match without much lag.
If you upgrade to a VIP Plan – which costs $8.61 USD for 100GB of traffic, you get access to servers that are optimized for gaming – meaning they are optimized for low ping.
Astrill VPN is not a good choice for gaming. Some of the UK servers I tested didn’t work at all, you can’t establish an optimized connection for gaming unless you choose the VIP package, and it takes a lot of time to find a server that works.
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Server Network — Very Few Servers, but Some Useful Features
Astrill has 113 servers in 57 countries. This global spread allows it to provide fast speeds to most parts of the world. It also has some specialized servers like China-optimized and torrenting-optimized ones.
Most of Astrill’s servers are located in the US and I counted about 50 in its client – which is a low number. This means that if one server isn’t working, you have very few options to choose from. After I went through 35 servers and none of them worked, I started questioning Astrill’s capabilities.
Multi-hop VPN routes your traffic through multiple servers, making you harder to spot — but it’s only accessible to Astrill’s VIP users. It’s a paid feature that starts at $8.69 USD for 100GB of traffic. Instead of routing your connection through only one server, the multi-hop feature will add an extra server on the way in order to make it impossible for anyone to track your connection. For most people this is overkill. Your VPN should already hide your location. Plus, during my tests, multi-hop reduced my connection speeds even more — making it almost impossible to do even basic online tasks.
In general, the multi-hop feature is great to make your connection hard to track, but the slow speeds that come with it defeats the purpose, so it’s not worth the money. You can only use the multi-hop feature with the OpenWeb protocol.
Astrill offers two types of IP addresses:
- Shared IP addresses — in general, when you connect to a server, you share an IP address with all the other people connected to it. The shared IPs are great for anonymity because hundreds of people are using the same one, and you can’t tell who did what. However, shared IP addresses often get blocked by streaming platforms.
- Private IP addresses — if you want a dedicated IP address, you need to pay an extra $5 USD per month on top of your subscription. You are the only person using it and it’s always connected to the same location, which helps maintain a stable connection. Besides, the chances of being blocked by streaming platforms are lower because they can’t know if it’s your real IP address or provided by a VPN. However, dedicated IPs are easier to track and provide less security because they let you open specific ports and forward traffic to your device.
I was disappointed to see that you can’t buy a dedicated IP address if you’re paying for a monthly subscription, which means you can only use them on longer plans.
It's possible to get dedicated IP addresses in the US, UK, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Spain, Finland, France, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, Turkey, Australia, and Brazil.
Astrill’s Smart Mode is a feature that allows you to use a local IP address for local traffic, and an international one for accessing geoblocked content. Its purpose is to hide the fact that you’re using the VPN, by keeping traffic on your original IP too.
Instead of routing all the traffic through Astrill’s servers, you can choose which apps or websites use it. When I tested it, I directed my browser traffic through the VPN but left the P2P apps such as Skype and Telegram running on my network.
This feature comes in handy for people living in countries with high censorship, as it won’t trigger any flags while also allowing them to access any international websites without much of a hassle.
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Security and Privacy — Astrill VPN Is Generally Safe to Use
Astrill VPN comes packed with a lot of security features – at least on paper. Depending on the type of protocol you choose and your luck, these settings may not be available. Besides, Astrill VPN lacks the well-advertised DNS and IP leak protection, so you need to be very careful when you use it.
Encryption and Protocols
Astrill VPN has 4 main protocols, each with its own purpose and encryption systems. Whenever you turn the VPN on, you can choose between these protocols and the level of encryption you use (AES 256, 193, or 128 bit). Each comes with slightly different settings, making the VPN a little complicated.
- OpenWeb – is a great solution for dealing with limited networks – for example, if your workplace blocks Facebook, you can still access it using OpenWeb. It’s the only protocol allowing you to change the server without turning it off. Since it looks like regular HTTP and HTTPS traffic, internet providers and government institutions won’t be able to detect the VPN. However, keep in mind that OpenWeb can only tunnel traffic from popular web browsers, such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera.
- StealthVPN – This protocol scrambles your VPN connection, making it seem like a regular internet connection. That means that your online activity and the fact that you're using a VPN is hidden. This feature is useful for bypassing network restrictions as well as overcoming internet blocks in countries like China. It works with both TCP and UDP protocols, meaning you can choose from thousands of ports to unblock any website or app. What I didn’t like about the StealthVPN protocol is that I couldn’t change the server without turning the VPN off.
- WireGuard – used for shorter connection times and high performance. It uses 6 encryption protocols, and it was initially designed for roaming. This means that if your device switches from mobile data to WiFi and vice-versa, your VPN will stay connected.
- OpenVPN – unlike StealthVPN and WireGuard, it can be used by anyone without requiring a client. Its purpose is not to hide traffic, but to create stable, secure, and fast connections between parties.
In addition to these 4, you can manually set up some other protocols. These include IKEv2/IPsec, L2TP/IPSec, Cisco IPSec, SSTP, PPTP.
Strict No Logs Policy, but With a Catch
Astrill VPN claims to have a very strict no-logs policy, but it does save some information and sensitive data for a limited time.
I went over Astrill’s privacy policies and found out that it keeps data about your connection time, country, type of device, amount of bandwidth used, and Astrill’s version number – this helps them limit the number of devices connected on an account. All this data is kept for the last 20 logins, and it’s deleted if you don’t use the VPN for 30 days.
On top of that, when your VPN is on, Astrill keeps logs of your connection time, IP address, device type, and Astrill’s client version — but this data is deleted once you close the connection. Most concerning is that it logs your IP address, but since this information is deleted immediately after you disconnect, your anonymity is pretty well protected.
When I checked my logs, I had a big surprise. I tried downloading the .zip document containing my logs, but they all got deleted. After connecting and disconnecting multiple times from the VPN to create more logs, the same thing happened. I couldn’t download my logs no matter what I did. When I messaged the support team to find out more about this issue, they couldn’t tell me anything except that they'd contact me when the issue was fixed.
Considering I already experienced leaks on some servers and kept experiencing more problems, I’m convinced that you should look for a different VPN. I don't find it too surprising that it hasn't performed third-party audits on its apps or policies, either.
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Leak Tests and Protection
I experienced leaks on some servers while using Astrill VPN, however the VPN blocks you from using the most popular leak testing tools. When I began my tests, I kept getting blocked when trying to access ipleak.net, one of the most popular platforms to test leaks. I sent a message to the live chat team asking what was happening, and they said that these tools are purposely blocked because “most of them sell the IP data".
They also recommended I use Astrill’s own DNS leak test. For me, this was a red flag. Other top VPNs I've tested allow the use of leak testing tools, which reassures me that they have nothing to hide. Besides, when I tried Astrill’s DNS leak test on different (yet very secure) VPNs, I was informed that my connection was not secure – which was definitely not the case.
After looking for a DNS tester that wasn't blocked by Astrill, I found ipleak.com. The first server I tested was Los Angeles B, which completely failed to cover all my information. My IP address, ISP, location, city, country, and coordinates were all visible.
Astrill’s server leaked my information
This means that every website I visited, along with my ISP, could see all of my online activity and my actual location. This defeats the purpose of using a VPN completely.
The second server I tested was a Canadian one that managed to hide all my data, except for the local time – if someone were to check it, they’d figure out something is happening on my network.
Astrill’s IP and DNS leak protection is lacking, and I don’t recommend using it. Even if you do, you are blocked from using the appropriate tools to ensure your connection is secure. There are many other options out there that will keep you safe (and give you the option to make sure that's the case).
Astrill VPN's automatic kill switch worked well when I tested it. The kill switch shuts down your internet connection in case the VPN fails. Even when you’re using a reliable VPN, your connection can fail from time to time. Without a kill switch, your personal information would be immediately exposed.
I tested its kill switch on my MacBook and it did the job. However, the moment I closed the VPN, it also blocked my internet access. This was inconvenient because I had to restart my WiFi connection whenever I disconnected the VPN.
To activate the kill switch, you need to go into Astrill’s privacy settings and check the “Internet Kill Switch" box.
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App Guard allows you to manually select the apps you don’t want to run without a VPN. This protects your online identity and keeps your IP address hidden. Keep in mind that App Guard is slightly different from the classic kill switch. It allows you to choose which apps to tunnel, while the kill switch will block all your apps from accessing the internet in case of a failure.
This feature is only available on Windows. The classic kill switch works just fine with the macOS and Linux clients, so your identity will be safe even if the VPN disconnects.
Outside of the Intelligence-Sharing Community
Astrill VPN is based in The Republic of Seychelles, which is outside of the 14 Eyes Alliance. It has no obligation to share your data with other countries or intelligence agencies, and it doesn’t store a lot of information about you. After going through Seychelles’ data protection law, I noticed that no data collecting entity needs to send any information to the government. And if an international entity requires that data, Seychelles’ Data Protection Commissioner can block the transfer.
Astrill VPN lets you choose which websites are routed through the VPN and which ones stay on your regular IP address. Since it's only available for websites, all apps are automatically routed through the VPN.
To see if this feature really works I added ipleak.com to the list. At first, I instructed the VPN to only tunnel that website — but it failed from the start. Ipleak.com could see my IP, city, and all the other information I was trying to hide. The only explanation I had was that the functions were inverted, so I also instructed Astrill to exclude that website from filtering — and I had the same result. Not only did Astrill not tunnel the website I instructed it to, it didn’t mask any of my information either.
It's also inconvenient that (unless you’re using the OpenVPN protocol) you need to include or exclude websites based on their IP address, not URL. This is a complicated process, and you need to have some coding skills to get it.
Astrill’s split tunneling feature comes with many options.
This feature is available on all of Astrill’s clients, with OpenVPN, StealthVPN, and WireGuard protocols.
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Port forwarding allows remote devices to access your computer through a private local area network. It’s useful if you want to create a direct connection between a device in your home and another remote device – for example, you can use this if you need to monitor your security cameras when you’re away from home.
With a shared IP address, you can choose one pre-selected port to forward to. However, with a dedicated IP address, you can choose to forward any port, while also using the NAT Firewall. The Network Address Translation (NAT firewall) is your router’s security system. It makes sure that the devices you register on that network can and will access the internet. Astrill’s port forwarding option can forward up to 3 ports on the same network.
Onion Over VPN
The Onion over VPN feature helps you to safely access the dark web without being traced. Instead of using Tor, you can turn on the Onion over VPN feature, and all your traffic will be rerouted through a series of nodes.
When you switch on Astrill’s Onion over VPN feature, all your traffic is sent first through the VPN and then through the Onion network. This allows you to access .onion sites from any browser (not just Tor). During my tests, it was much slower than a regular connection, but this is normal because my traffic had to go through the VPN server as well as the Tor nodes. It’s much more secure and useful if you want to access the dark web, but it’s unnecessary and too slow for regular traffic.
Astrill successfully accessed ProPublica’s .onion domain without the Tor browser
Astrill comes with a built-in ad blocker, but it’s not reliable. I turned off my browser’s ad blockers and turned Astrill’s on. I could still see all the ads and pop-ups. If you're concerned about blocking ads, I suggest continuing to use your regular ad blocking software activated instead of using this feature.
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Torrenting — Fast P2P-Optimized Servers
Astrill VPN performed OK when I tested its torrenting capabilities — but considering many of my connections weren't secure, your anonymity is not guaranteed. The good thing is that Astrill’s local speeds were good during my test, so I was able to finish the download.
Astrill’s servers that are marked with a star are suitable for torrenting.
It also offers the possibility to connect to a SOCKS5 proxy, designed to create an additional layer of security – it creates a TCP connection behind the firewall and routes all the data through it. It also has specialized servers for torrenting that are marked with a star in the app.
I connected to a few servers in Romania, Canada, the US, Netherlands, and the UK. I could download my files on all of them, but the speeds on the international servers were very slow. On the Romanian server, my speed was good and I didn’t notice any connection issues.
It works well with clients like BitTorrent, LimeWire, and uTorrent – and I was glad that it was also compatible with my torrenting client, Transmission – which is very restrictive. However, you will need to enable port forwarding in order to torrent with Astrill VPN, which isn't the greatest for security. You also can't access P2P-optimized servers using the OpenWeb protocol.
Overall, I don’t recommend using Astrill VPN for torrenting. Even though it performed decently, you have no guarantee that your connection is secure enough to keep you safe.
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Does Astrill VPN Work in China? Yes
Astrill works in China using the StealthVPN protocol and its Smart Mode feature. It also has a mirror website accessible by users in China and a fully functional .onion domain. This is important because China’s government bans non-government approved VPNs (and therefore blocks their websites). That means if you’re already there you won’t be able to download it any other way. Even the renowned anti-censorship website greatfire.org claims that Astrill VPN is one of the best VPNs to bypass the Great Firewall. This is probably Astrill's greatest selling feature.
I contacted Astrill’s support team first to see if I could still use the VPN in China, and they said yes.
According to the support agent, you can use Astrill VPN in China
Stealth VPN uses obfuscation technology to make your VPN connection seem like regular internet traffic. This makes it very difficult for China to block your connection for using a VPN. It uses the OpenVPN protocol and scrambles that connection over either UDP or TCP. However, StealthVPN isn't available for iOS devices.
Smart Mode is a unique technology developed by Astrill that ensures greater anonymity specifically in China. It simulates DNS and HTTPS traffic using a regional Chinese IP, so you can unblock international websites while still using a local IP address. Smart Mode is only available while using the OpenWeb protocol. However, you can use the Website Tunneling feature using any protocol, allowing you to access local sites while connected to the VPN as well.
It would be a shame to have these great features only to realize your chosen server was leaking your real information. So, I ran a few tests on Astrill’s China-optimized servers to make sure my connection was secure. I didn’t experience any leaks using the Seattle China-optimized server – my IP address, ISP, and location remained hidden.
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Installation & Apps
Astrill is one of the most annoying VPNs I’ve used so far, and I find it unsuitable for beginners. It's very hard to find a server that works and you need to have some experience with VPNs to understand how to manually configure it. After you create an account, you need to download the client and log in. Once you’re logged in, the VPN starts using the OpenWeb protocol, and then you have to look for the server you need.
The problem is that you will need a different server and protocol depending on what you want to do online. These server/protocol combinations are not written anywhere, so you need to test everything yourself before you can successfully stream, torrent, or browse certain sites.
Unless you’re using the OpenVPN protocol, you need to turn the VPN off before switching the server. This is inconvenient because you need to stop everything you're doing, find another server, and then resume. Besides, you don’t get a list of recommended servers or an automatic selection feature that gives you the best server in one-click (most top-tier VPNs I've tested offer this).
You can find all the settings you need in the menu, and they change depending on the protocol you use. With OpenVPN, you can access the site filter, ad blocker, VPN sharing, and OpenWeb options (like browser, app tunneling and some advanced options). With this protocol, it’s best to go under “Advanced Settings" and check “Keep Connection" so your VPN doesn’t disconnect when you switch servers. When I had this option turned off, every time I changed the server, my laptop’s connection with the router was interrupted.
I had to de-select "Tunnel Browsers only" when I first opened Astrill to make sure my entire device was protected
When I first opened Astrill’s client, only the browsers were routed through its servers, while the rest of my apps were still using my real IP address. This can be a problem if you’re using the VPN to download torrents because it will leave you exposed. To change this setting, you need to go under “OpenWeb options" and instruct Astrill to tunnel all the apps.
OpenVPN, StealthVPN, and WireGuard unblock the kill switch, port forwarding, and specific protocol options. From here, you can choose between the UDP and TCP connection types.
Your security settings change depending on which protocol you use.
Despite its many technical issues, Astrill has okay speeds and a decent interface. However, if you haven’t used a VPN before, you won’t be able to easily navigate and understand all of its features. On top of that, some server/protocol combinations gave me connection issues — sometimes I couldn’t load a webpage, sometimes my IP was in another location, and sometimes it wasn't masked at all. This means you have to spend some time testing out each server to find the right one.
To hide the Astrill client, you can go to the menu under “Interface Options" and deselect the “Always on Top" checkbox – when you first start it, it’s set to stay on top of other apps at all times.
It's easy to change your Astrill VPN settings.
Astrill VPN is not a service I can recommend from this point of view. Even though its apps are pretty standard, the time needed to actually find a server that works for your needs is too long. There are better and faster options you can go with.
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Astrill’s Optional Extras — They're Not Really Worth the Price
Astrill has 2 extra features, and they do come with a price. Considering that it’s already an expensive VPN, I don’t find the extra features justified.
- VIP Traffic – The VIP Plan unlocks extra features, such as multi-hop, extra servers in Asia, and optimized gaming servers. VIP has a different price based on the amount of data you need, and 100GB of traffic will cost you an extra $9.97 USD on top of the $12.50/month USD monthly subscription price. Also, the traffic resets every month, so if you purchased it but didn’t use it, you’ll have to pay for it again. This isn't something you should pay for — most VPNs already offer all those features with a standard plan.
- Dedicated IP Address - A dedicated IP address is useful if you don’t want to share your IP with other people using the server, and it costs $5 USD per month. It allows you to access and open certain ports, and also share them with other Astrill users. These can also help you access geoblocked streaming sites because a dedicated IP address is harder to detect and block since you're the only one using it.
Simultaneous Connections — Connect up to 5 Devices
You can have up to 5 simultaneous connections under one Astrill subscription. I downloaded and used the VPN on my MacBook, Android phone, and Windows laptop. I was expecting my connection to be slow with so many devices connected but my speeds remained the same.
You can get unlimited simultaneous connections at home if you install the VPN on your router. It’s a small trick that allows you to route all your WiFi devices through the VPN using only one connection. You just need to make sure that your router is compatible with the OpenVPN protocol.
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Device Compatibility — Works With All Major Platforms and Devices
Astrill works with Windows, macOS, Android, Linux – such as Ubuntu, Debian, or Linux Mint – iOS, and ASUS Merlin and DD-WRT routers. When you install it on your router, it works with smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Kindle, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Boxee, and Roku, as well as gaming consoles like PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles.
It doesn’t have a browser extension, so you can’t use it directly on Chrome or Firefox. On Astrill’s wiki page, you can also find tutorials on how to configure Astrill on Windows phones, Blackberry phones, and Chromium.
Astrill’s desktop apps are easy to use, but finding the right protocol and server combination takes some time. After you install the software, it starts using the OpenWeb protocol, and you can connect to any server and go. I thoroughly tested the app on a Mac computer, and it took me about 15 minutes to find all the features.
When you first open the app, it’s set to tunnel browsers only. This means that all the apps you use are still routed through your network and perfectly visible – this is a big problem if you’re using the VPN for torrenting.
You don’t get recommended servers, which is a little inconvenient. Most VPNs give you a list of recommended servers or have an automatic connection feature, which allows you to set up an optimized connection easily – Astrill doesn’t. And once you change the protocol, the whole app seems to change and you get different options.
On desktop, Astrill offers:
Astrill’s security protocols can be changed whenever the VPN is off.
- Site Filtering — this feature allows you to select which websites go through the VPN. It can be useful if you want to use your normal IP address for browsing locally and access international websites through a foreign IP address.
- Ad Blocker — supposedly blocks ads, but it doesn’t really work and you don’t have advanced options. It’s best to stick to the classic ad blockers.
- Port Forwarding — allows you to forward a network port on a different node, which can protect your network from unwanted access.
- VPN Sharing — this feature allows you to share the VPN on your router. After you activate it, you need to set up the router too.
- Kill Switch — it will automatically stop your network’s communication with the tunneled websites and apps when the connection fails.
- Split Tunneling — works a little like the site filter, but you can also choose which apps to tunnel.
- Smart Mode — Windows-only feature that assigns you a local IP address to access websites in your country, and a foreign one for accessing international websites.
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iOS and Android Apps
Astrill’s Android and iOS apps are quite limited and don’t offer all the desktop features. Namely, the kill switch is missing. This means that your traffic won't be protected in case the VPN fails. After you log in, you can choose the server and protocol you want to connect to and you get a message informing you when your subscription expires.
When I started my Android client, I encountered an error – I had battery optimization turned on, and Astrill couldn’t work properly. After I fixed it, I connected my VPN to a US server and everything seemed to work fine. Both apps and websites loaded very fast.
On iOS, I found that Astrill has a very big problem. Sometimes, the VPN can’t be turned off, and the phone needs to be restarted. Upon contacting its support team, I received a guide and had to close all my apps, clear my RAM, and then try again. However, that didn't fix the problem.
The mobile clients have a standard set of features:
- UDP and TCP modes — these are the standard protocols to send files over the internet. TCP is slower, but more reliable, as it checks the connection for errors and fully delivers your information. UDP is a lot faster, but it skips some steps along the way and it won’t check your files for full delivery – it’s like ordering multiple packages from a store. TCP will double-check the order and make sure you receive everything, while UDP will get your order as fast as possible, but you may not receive everything.
- Connection Port — this is the way computers communicate with each other and the port you choose determines how the data is transmitted over the network.
- Logs — in Astrill’s mobile client you get a list of all the logs it saves.
- App Filter — this one is pretty straightforward. You can choose if you want to tunnel all the apps or only browsers.
On mobile, you don’t get any HTTPS Redirects (meaning your connection is not 100% secure) or DNS/IPv6 leak protection (meaning your original IP may still be seen by the websites and apps you use). Also, all your apps are set to go through the VPN unless you specify otherwise from the app filter.
Astrill is compatible with ASUS Merlin and DD-WRT routers through the OpenVPN or RouterPro protocols. You can use the guides on its website to manually set it up. I followed the step-by-step instructions and set Astrill up on my router in a few minutes. The tutorials are easy to follow, and an intermediate user will have no problem working with them.
You can also buy one of Astrill’s VPN routers that are already configured. If you’re not familiar with router configuration but you need a VPN on your router, it’s an option you can consider.
For unlimited simultaneous connections, install Astrill on your router
. Your router is considered a single connection, so all of the other WiFi-connected devices in your household can stay protected at once.
Setup & Installation — Ready to Go in 3 Minutes
Astrill’s apps are quick to download and set up, but finding a server that works is time-consuming. It only took me about 3 minutes to install the app. However, the first server I chose didn't work, so it took extra time to get it up and running once installed. It took me more than 30 minutes to find a server I could use to watch Netflix.
After you install, you need to open the app, choose a protocol, select a server, and you’re technically good to go. However, it gets complicated when the protocol or server you need doesn’t work. Even when you find one that does, you still need to set up its extra features. Once Astirill is all set up on your device, it gives you access to a 36-page user guide, which can be either helpful or overwhelming.
Quick Guide: How to Setup Astrill VPN in 3 Easy Steps
- Download Astrill VPN. Navigate to Astrill's website and create an account. You can only download the client after you create an account, and it’s available for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and specific routers.
- Install the client. The installation process is very straightforward.
- Log in, choose a server, and connect. When you first start the client, it comes with the OpenWeb protocol activated. If you need a different one, simply change it before you connect.
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