Astrill’s marketing team does a great job of advertising it as one of the best VPNs out there — but are they telling the truth about how good it is?
I went ahead and tested its every feature and analyzed its privacy policies and security measures to see if it’s good enough to recommend. I also paid good attention to its server network, speeds, torrenting support, gaming, streaming and finally made up my mind about it.
Astrill is not a VPN I can recommend. It has a small server network, most of its servers don’t work at all, and your anonymity is not guaranteed. Even though it has 4 security protocols implemented, it doesn’t provide the DNS and IP leak protection it advertises, so all your real information can be exposed. After my experience with it, I suggest checking out other VPNs.
Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
- Unblocks most streaming platforms. Astrill managed to unblock all the streaming platforms I tested (including Netflix and Hulu), but it is very time-consuming to find servers that work. Take a look at my test results below.
- Slow and inconsistent speeds. My speed dropped by up to 40%, which is quite a lot. Besides, the connection wasn’t stable, so the speed fluctuations were big. You can check out my speed test results here.
- No leak protection. Astrill is advertised as an incredibly secure VPN, but in reality, it doesn’t do much to keep you anonymous. Check out my full security analysis.
- Bypasses censorship and geo-restrictions. It can unblock almost every site and bypass China’s Great Firewall, but I question its reliability. Check out my full analysis below.
- The setup process is too complicated for beginners. However, it has customizable desktop clients, which are great for advanced users. Take a look at my full run-down for more.
Astrill VPN Features — Updated in March 2021
|Number of countries with servers||60|
|Number of servers||150|
|Number of IP addresses||100000|
|Does VPN keep logs?||Yes|
|Does VPN include a kill switch?||Yes|
|Number of devices per license||5|
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 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.
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: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, ESPN, Disney+, and HBO Max
I was able to watch movies on Amazon Prime, Netflix, and HBO Max on Astrill’s Los Angeles Supercharged server in the US – only with the OpenWeb protocol. The average speed was 47 Mbps on all of them, and I didn’t experience lag or buffering. However, I spent a lot of time trying to find the right server.
Unblocking ESPN is complicated. On some servers, I could see the shows without being able to play them, and 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.
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, and it 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.
Astrill’s local speeds are good but very inconsistent. 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.
Speeds without a VPN (Bucharest, Romania):
- Ping: 4 ms
- Download: 92.31 Mbps
- Upload: 68.44 Mbps
Connected to a local server (Brasov, Romania):
- Ping: 55 ms
- Download: 51.08 Mbps (45% decrease)
- Upload: 58.94 Mbps (14% 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’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. The download speed went down 43%, but it’s understandable since I connected to the other side of the world. Knowing that Astrill’s servers are not very stable, though, I ran more tests.
On my second test, the speed decreased by 59%. Since I had a very fast speed to start with, I didn’t feel this difference. However, if your network is not very fast, you may not be able to do much from an international server.
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 something, my speeds changed too. I switched from StealthVPN to OpenVPN and my upload speed was actually faster than my original one.
Are Astrill’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:
- Bandwidth – how much information you can send or receive on the network
- Packet loss – the amount of data getting lost during 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.
Server Network — Very Few Servers, but Some Useful Features
Astrill has servers in 60 countries. Since it doesn’t give us an exact number, it is impossible to compare it with other VPNs from this point of view.
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.
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 – if the VPN doesn’t have many servers, these can get overcrowded and decrease your speeds. The shared IPs are great for anonymity because hundreds of people are using the same one, and you can’t tell who did what.
- 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. Besides, the chances of being blocked by streaming platforms are lower because it’s a new IP address. However, dedicated IPs are easier to track.
The multi-hop VPN feature is 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 barely usable.
I ran a few leak tests on Astrill’s servers to see how and if the multi-hop feature works, but the results were all over the place. Normally, a VPN will route your connection through one server, but Astrill routed it through 10 servers at least even without the multi-hop feature, which is a little odd.
In general, the multi-hop feature is great to make your connection hard to track, but Astrill’s beats the purpose and it’s definitely not worth the money. You can only use the multi-hop feature with the OpenWeb protocol.
Astrill offers a dedicated IP address for the users who need a consistent connection and an IP only they can use. It comes at $5 USD per month added to the normal subscription.
Instead of using the same IP as everyone else – which is good for anonymity, a dedicated IP provides a little more security because it allows you to open specific ports and forward traffic to your device. Since you’re the only one using a dedicated IP address, it doesn’t look like you’re using a VPN. Streaming platforms and restrictive websites read your IP and compare it with others accessing the platforms. When too many people use the same address, it gets blocked. A dedicated IP address has a lower chance of getting blocked because you’re the only one using it, and streaming platforms see it as unique. This feature works with OpenVPN, StealthVPN, and Wireguard.
I was disappointed to see that you can’t buy a dedicated IP address if you’re paying for a monthly subscription. You can only use a dedicated IP on longer plans.
You can 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 protects both your online identity and the VPNs IP address. When you connect to a server, you share an IP address with other people using the same server, which is great for staying anonymous. If someone wants to track your activity, they’ll have to dig through hundreds of requests from all of those people.
Astrill does a great job advertising this feature, but local authorities can still see you’re using a VPN. This is because they look at both your IP address and your metadata. This contains all the information regarding your online presence like the IPs of the websites you visit, the sizes of the files you download, etc. Even though you can browse international websites through a local IP address, your connection is not 100% anonymous.
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. The downside of this feature is that unless you run an IP leak test every time you use the VPN, you have no guarantee that Astrill really hides your activity.
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.
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. Each comes with slightly different settings, making the VPN a little complicated.
- OpenWeb – The OpenWeb protocol was designed by Astrill back in 2009 and is a great solution for dealing with limited networks – for example, if your workplace blocks Facebook, you can still access it using OpenWeb. It assures fast web browsing and allows you to switch servers in a matter of seconds – it’s the only protocol allowing you to change the server without turning it off.On restrictive networks, it can be very hard to use a VPN. The firewalls can detect the connection, and this is where the OpenWeb protocol comes in. Since it looks like regular HTTP and HTTPS traffic, internet providers and government institutions won’t be able to detect the VPN. Astrill’s Smart Mode is a great feature using this protocol. It keeps local traffic flowing through your IP address and international traffic through the VPN.Using the same protocol, Astrill made it super-easy to choose which traffic goes through your regular IP. If you only want browser activity to be rerouted through a VPN, you can use the browser filtering feature.
- StealthVPN – This protocol is inspired by OpenWeb, but it has slightly different functionality. With StealthVPN, traffic is routed through Astrill’s servers, so you can bypass network restrictions and enable P2P applications that normally wouldn’t work. 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.
- Wire Guard – In order to keep the connection times low while maintaining the performance, Astrill VPN implemented Wire Guard. 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 without delays.
- OpenVPN – A very versatile protocol, used and developed by millions around the world. Unlike OpenWeb, StealthVPN, and Wireguard, it can be used by anyone without requiring a client. The purpose of OpenVPN is not to hide traffic, but to create stable, secure, and fast connections between parties.
When I tried running a leak test on Astrill, I found out ipleak.net, one of the best platforms to test leaks, doesn’t work with Astrill. I sent a message to the live chat team asking what’s happening, and they said that these tools are blocked, as “most of them sell the IP data.” They also recommended I use Astrill’s DNS leak test. For me, this was a red flag. All the major VPNs allow you to use these websites because there’s 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’s not blocked by Astrill, I found ipleak.com. The first server I tested – USA Los Angeles B, completely failed to cover all my information. My IP address, ISP, location, city, country, and coordinates were all visible.
This means that every website I visited, along with my ISP and authorities, could see who I was and where I was browsing from. All this beats the purpose of a VPN.
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 definitely don’t recommend using it. There are many other options out there that will keep you safe and anonymous.
The Kill Switch is a great feature to have when using a VPN. Even when you’re using a reliable VPN service, the connection may fail due to a poor internet connection, firewall settings, or ISP protocol. Since you need the VPN to protect your identity, it’s important to have a kill switch to cut the connection with certain websites or apps if the VPN fails.
I tested its Kill Switch on my MacBook and it did the job. The moment I closed the VPN, it also blocked my internet access.
On Windows devices, Astrill’s kill switch is called App Guard, and it 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. The classic Kill Switch works just fine with the macOS and Linux clients, so your identity will be safe even if the VPN disconnects.
Keep in mind that App Guard is slightly different from the classic kill switch. App Guard 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.
To activate the Kill Switch, you need to go into Astrill’s privacy settings and check the “Internet Kill Switch” box.
Astrill VPN offers website filtering. This normally means that you can choose which websites are routed through the VPN, and which ones stay on your regular IP address. However, Astrill only allows you to filter websites – all the 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 cover any of my information either.
This feature is available on all of Astrill’s clients, with OpenVPN, StealthVPN, and Wire Guard protocols.
Astrill VPN allows port-forwarding on selected servers, which can be 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 deep 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 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, which most websites have as it’s their way of making an income – and it’s understandable. However, if you don’t want to see all these ads, Astrill’s ad blocker is not the way. It’s still best to keep your regular tools.
Privacy — Solid Privacy Features, but Keeps Logs
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’s Data Protection Commissioner can block the transfer.
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. Or at least that’s what it says, as I couldn’t read my logs.
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 but “We’ll contact you when it’s fixed.”
Considering all of Astrill’s leaks and problems so far, I’m convinced that you should look for a different VPN without thinking twice.
Torrenting — Fast P2P-Optimized Servers, but Only on Desktop
Astrill is a good choice for torrenting on local servers. However, your anonymity is not guaranteed. Unless you run an IP leak test yourself, you can’t know if the server you’re connected to really hides all your information. The good thing is that Astrill’s local speeds are solid, so you should be able to download your files.
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. Even though this is a maximum security proxy, Astrill itself isn’t very secure so you may experience problems. It also has specialized servers for torrenting, and these are marked with a star.
I connected to a few servers in Romania, Canada, 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 was compatible with my torrenting software – which is very restrictive.
Overall, I don’t recommend using Astrill VPN for torrenting. Even though its performances are more than decent, you have no guarantee that your information is hidden.
Astrill works in China through the StealthVPN protocol. It has a mirror website accessible by users in China, as well as a fully functional .onion domain – China’s government blocks the VPN’s websites, and if you’re already there, you won’t be able to download it any other way.
I contacted Astrill’s support team first to see if I could still use the VPN in China, and they said yes.
StealthVPN was created to bypass firewalls that perform deep packet inspection (DPI) as soon as you connect – this means that it analyzes your metadata, to identify the amount and type of transmitted data, and your actual data. The Great Firewall of China inspects TCP packets and looks for certain keywords – if these keywords are present, the connection will be blocked.
In order to bypass these checks, Astrill allows you to change the TCP and UDP protocols and simulate DNS and HTTPS traffic – DNS traffic can be simulated with the UDP port 53, and HTTPS traffic can be simulated with TCP port 443. This means that you can basically try all 65,537 ports in order to bypass the Great Firewall of China. However, once your device has been blocked once, the system will have an easier time blocking you a second time. You can use Astrill to bypass China’s Great Firewall, but it could end up being a time-consuming process.
I then moved to test Astrill’s China server. The first time I tried connecting to a server in China, it didn’t work at all. My connection was down and I couldn’t load any pages. After restarting my internet connection and trying to reconnect a couple of times, it finally worked.
I ran a few tests on Astrill’s China server to see the exact information about the connection. It assigned me a Shanghai IP address and I didn’t notice any leaks – my IP address, ISP, and location remained hidden.
The results are promising, but I wouldn’t count on it to bypass the Great Firewall of China.