Astrill is one of the most popular VPNs for folks looking to find their way around the Great Firewall of China. It also offers some cool additional services, and could be relied on for torrenting and streaming. Here, we take a deep dive look into what Astrill is all about...
Servers & Locations
Astrill operates what we would consider a mid-sized network of servers, the exact number of which isn't specified on its website. What the company shares are the number of cities (117) and countries (64) where its servers are located (as of the end of 2019).
All major destinations are covered delivering solid download and upload speeds. Africa, however, is not best supported with only a few servers in Egypt and South Africa covering the entire continent. Then again, it's not like many users will need to connect to those servers in order to, say, stream Netflix or download files with BitTorrent.
Astrill emphasizes that all of its servers are physical, connected to high-quality network nodes and usually on 1Gbit or 10Gbit lines. Also, new VPN servers and IP addresses are added regularly.
Astrill has apps for all popular platforms -- namely Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and Linux. It can also work with your router, and if you don't want to meddle with the configuration -- the company is offering preset routers that provide VPN out of the box.
For other platforms, Astrill offers easy to grasp guides, allowing users to set up devices such as Amazon Kindle Fire and Blackberry, as well as gaming consoles and streaming devices.
Unfortunately, dedicated browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox are not available, but if you're running Astrill's desktop app - you're good to go.
A single Astrill license lets you connect unlimited devices in your household. That's right, there are no caps on the number of simultaneous connections. You can literally connect every single device you have to a VPN.
Astrill offers fast (though not fastest) -- but perhaps more important -- reliable connections to both local and distant servers. As such, it is a great choice for torrent and streaming users alike, as well as for bypassing any kind of restrictions. More on that in a moment.
The problem, however, is latency which at around 10ms when connecting to distant servers makes it a less than ideal choice for gamers. Other than that, Astrill "gets the job done" for most users with little to no connection drops in our tests. And the same goes for speeds -- as we have noted above, while this isn't the fastest VPN out there, it is one of the most consistent ones. And that's what really matters at the end of the day.
The consistency of the service probably has a lot to do with the software Astrill uses -- their own. They proudly say that all their software is created to be native for each platform, thus using as little as possible system resources (CPU/RAM) and providing optimal performance.
Security & Privacy
When it comes to security, Astrill is one of the top choices out there, offering the super-secure OpenVPN protocol that is paired with unbreakable AES-256 encryption. For what it matters -- and it actually matters a lot -- the same encryption is used by the government agencies around the world to secure their communication.
In addition to the most popular OpenVPN protocol, Astrill also supports OpenWeb, StealthVPN, L2TP/IPSec, Cisco IPSec, IKEv2, PPTP and SSTP protocols.
Furthermore, Astrill employs WireGuard, which is a protocol for performance optimization; as well as a VPN kill switch that kicks in should the connection breaks to prevent IP address leakage.
In addition, users also benefit from DNS, IPv6 and WebRTC leak protection, split tunneling feature (that allows you to connect to certain website without VPN), and the fact that Astrill operates its own DNS servers -- meaning there is no chance the traffic will be routed via less secure third-party servers.
PrivacyAstrill doesn't boast a strict zero logs policy, but it doesn't collect much data either. The metadata it keeps include the user's connection time, IP address, device type and VPN app version for the duration of your VPN session. Once you disconnect, this information is permanently deleted.
In addition, the company keeps some information on your 20 last connections -- including connection time and duration, country and device type -- which are said to help Astrill improve the customer experience. The important thing is that they don't keep IP addresses or the user's physical location.
If you, however, don't like to have this data stored on their servers -- you can manually delete it from Astrill's memberzone. Also, if you don't use the software for 30 days, these logs will be deleted.
Astrill is incorporated in Seychelles, which means it won't be forced to share data with other countries -- a big plus in our book.
Ease of Use
Astrill offers easy to use apps, which design leaves a lot to be desired. Nonetheless, they get the job done, allowing users to connect to the desired server in just a few clicks -- or taps, if you're using a mobile app.
Those looking to use a VPN to download files via BitTorrent will be glad to know that servers optimized for P2P traffic are clearly marked with a yellow star -- making the process of server selection that much easier. The app also provides real-time information about the current connection.
Finally, advanced settings are also there, accessible by clicking/tapping on the menu button in the top right corner when additional features will be shown -- including leak blocking, DNS server selection, split tunneling, and the ability to change the default protocol.
All in all, while Astrill's apps could use some polishing, they made sure their usage is as straightforward as possible. We doubt anyone will have problems getting around and setting up a VPN connection with Astrill.
SupportThe first thing you should know is that Astrill offers live-chat support. You can also send them an email and, from our experience, get an answer in an hour or so. In most cases though, you won't get a direct response, but will rather be answered with a short sentence and a link to Astrill's knowledge base where said question has already been addressed.
Speaking of which, the knowledge base -- aka the Astrill Wiki -- is well organized and has a ton of information for different kinds of users, from newbies to tech advanced folks. You'll find tutorials for setting up a VPN on every device imaginable, including those that are not directly supported by Astrill with an app.
In addition, there are easy-to-grasp video tutorials that break down the setup process for most popular devices and platforms, as well as for some less common products such as Boxee, Kindle Fire and so on.
Streaming & Torrenting
Yes, you can watch Netflix with Astrill with both US- and UK-based servers delivering the buffer-free experience. And the same goes for other popular streaming services such as Hulu, HBO and Amazon Prime Video.
Accessing BBC iPlayer, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. Sometimes it works, and sometimes - you have to try with a different server. This is due to BBC's ongoing crackdown on VPN traffic, and there's little you could do about it -- except getting a different VPN. If/when it works with BBC, Astrill delivers a solid experience, comparable to the one with Netflix -- which means the buffer-free experience.
TorrentingAstrill is a good choice for anyone looking for a reliable VPN for torrenting with P2P-optimized servers being clearly marked with a yellow star on the server list. Consequently, this also makes the service great for enjoying Kodi streams.
The company manages to deliver exception service thanks to the use of port forwarding, also known as port mapping or port tunneling, which is a method used to redirect computer signals or ports between local area network (LAN) computers and remote (Internet) computers. This feature is very useful for torrenting, as by opening certain port for torrent client you allow seeders to send data to you through VPN resulting in higher speed and faster torrent downloads.
Astrill works in China... at least in most cases. It used to be even better and these days you may be forced to go through the server list to find the one that works in Beijing, but at the end -- you can use Astrill to bypass the Great Firewall of China.
The company employs an array of methods to make this possible -- including its own StealthVPN protocol -- to keep your whereabouts hidden on the web. And it is this mix of technologies that made it popular to folks in China.
But the country's censors have also advanced in recent years, and these days it is harder to access services like Facebook and YouTube from the world's most populous country. Still, Astrill keeps working without any special settings in other high-censorship countries like Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and UAE.
On select servers, Astrill offers dedicated IP addresses (for $5/month) that come in handy for collaborative work, when you need other team members to connect to your computer; or when you're accessing some highly secure environment and you need to whitelist your IP before accessing it.
Another cool feature lets you configure up to 3 multi-hop servers and use them with OpenWeb on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS. This multi-hop VPN setup greatly improves privacy, as anybody sniffing on your traffic sees that you connect from the last (third) server rather than the first one.
Use a drop-down menu to compare Astrill with other VPNs.
Like most VPN services, Astrill gets more affordable with longer-term contracts. It is still kinda pricey, though. There is, however, a free trial option but it is not available for users in China.
Astrill accepts all major credit cards, as well as PayPal, Alipay and bitcoins. Also, it will take in wire transfers.
|6 months||$15.00||$90.00||Save 25%|
|1 year||$10.00||$120.00||Save 50%|
Free trial and money-back guaranteeAstrill offers the 7-day free trial option but it is not always available. And the same goes for the money-back guarantee -- when it is available, you only get 7 days to get your cash back, and even that is limited to users who are NOT living in China. Guess Astrill knows who needs its service the most.
Furthermore, if you do take a free trial option, you will not be eligible for any refund. Why is this the case is beyond me, considering that other top VPNs offer either the longer period of money-back guarantee or -- if they allow free trials -- let you combine the two.
There is an option to save some cash on your VPN subscription through the "Invite Friend" scheme, which gets you a free month of access whenever your friend signs up to any Astrill subscription.
- Good for both torrenting and streaming
- Works in China
- Solid network with servers in 60+ countries
- Easy to use apps on multiple platforms
- Live chat isn't always available
- Fairly pricey
Astrill is all about privacy and also one of the few VPNs that still works in China. It is not the most affordable option on the market, but it gets the job done.
Whether you need a VPN for watching Netflix shows or downloading files via BitTorrent, Astrill can help you out -- all while keeping your identity under the radar. And this is especially true if you live or work in China when the company's stealth protocols will kick in to let you access all the popular sites that are by default blocked by the country's censors.
Astrill's apps are easy to use and available on all popular platforms. Nevertheless, they still manage to provide a host of advanced features tech-savvy folks are used to get. Highly recommended, again, especially if you're looking to bypass the Great Firewall of China.