Astrill VPN Review 2021: Functionality Over Looks, for a Price

by
Frederik Lipfert
Dr. Frederik Lipfert Founder, vpncheck
Updated on 2 Nov 2021
Frederik is a serial entrepreneur that jumped into entrepreneurship after earning his doctorate in physics. Founding and running an analytics company got him into the online privacy and security space he's now contributing to with vpncheck. Read full bio

Expert Contributions

Adrian Sproule
Adrian Sproule Network Engineer
Oksana Ivanova
Oksana Ivanova User Interface Designer
John Mulligan
John Mulligan Cybersecurity Researcher
Gillian Carrington Lawyer
Gillian Carrington Privacy & Data Protection Lawyer
Davit Kirakosyan
Davit Kirakosyan Business Consultant
Anna Kolesnichenko
Anna Kolesnichenko Management Consultant
This review is based on the exclusive research, analyses, and tests our experts have conducted of Astrill VPN.

Astrill VPN has always captured the interest of our experts. The VPN launched way back in 2009 intending to help users circumvent even the toughest censorships, and 12 years later, it is still arguably one of the most reliable VPNs for China. The VPN accomplishes this using two proprietary protocols and supplements the whole experience with hardware-only servers, excellent speeds, Onion over Tor, and a no-logs policy, among others.

However, Astrill is also among the priciest VPNs, coming in at an eye-watering $20 a month. Worse yet, that’s most likely not the only cost involved if you’re thinking about using Astrill’s VPN service (you can read more about this in the Performance and Reliability sections below).

The VPN also provides some seemingly outdated apps, despite offering some of the most advanced functionalities you’ll come across. So why is Astrill VPN popular despite the price, and does it offer value for money to the average user? 

This Astrill review dives into the VPN’s nitty-gritty and brings you the opinions of our industry experts.

Short on Time?

Here’s a quick overview of Astrill VPN.

  • Speeds: The VPN provides excellent speeds even with a modest internet connection. The servers offer up to 10 Gbps.
  • Privacy & Security: Astrill VPN encrypts all data with AES-256, and it doesn’t keep any usage logs. There are also lots of privacy and security features.
  • Obfuscation Capabilities: Astrill VPN effectively bypasses restrictions in China, Russia, Iran, and the UAE thanks to its Stealth and OpenWeb protocols.
  • Advanced Features: The VPN provides a kill switch, split tunneling, dark web access, VPN sharing, port forwarding, leak protection, and more.
  • Compatibility: You can install Astrill VPN on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and routers.
  • Price: Astrill VPN’s monthly subscription goes for $20, but the yearly plan halves the cost to $10 a month.

Astrill VPN Performance: Fast, Plenty of Servers, Works in China, and… Doesn’t Unblock Streaming Sites

The experience you get from using a VPN will be affected by its network performance, so you should always go with a VPN that doesn’t make it painful to add an extra layer of privacy and security. However, Astrill VPN uses hardware-only servers that provide bandwidth between 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps.

Our network expert Adrian Sproule, who is a Senior Network and Firewall Engineer, put the VPN to the test and examined many of the core aspects of Astrill’s service, from the speeds to the wire-level performance.

For the speed tests, the connection used was a 1 Gbps Fiber connection, and the first test was made without a VPN connection.Astrill test made without a VPN connection

Only the ping was (understandably) affected when connected to a nearby server, but the speeds remained fairly the same.Astrill test made with a VPN connection

Servers in nearby countries also provided impressive speeds, with the only significant difference being in the upload speeds.Astrill server speed for Dublin

When connected to servers in different continents, the download speeds were between 500 Mbps and 900 Mbps, with most of them averaging 800 Mbps.Astrill server speed for Phoenix, AZ

Below is Adrian’s complete analysis of Astrill VPN.

Our Expert Review and Rating of Astrill VPN’s Network Performance

Adrian Sproule
Adrian Sproule
Network Engineer

Tests were carried out to ensure there were no DNS leaks before connecting to the VPN and while connected to the VPN. In both tests there were no DNS leaks identified, which aligns with the information provided on Astrill’s website. This was also confirmed by performing a number of DNS lookups using the Google DNS servers while inside and outside the VPN. Astrill have a large number of VPN servers located in 107 cities in 57 countries around the world, with all servers having a 1Gbps or 10Gbps dedicated internet connection which means they are not sharing an internet connection with other customers in the data centres where they host their infrastructure.

There is very little information about the Astrill infrastructure, but they do have information about their two proprietary VPN protocols that they have developed which are OpenWeb and StealthVPN. Both protocols use AES-256 encryption, with the OpenWeb using TLS traffic which means it is very hard to detect with deep packet inspection as it looks like regular web browsing traffic. From a performance aspect, OpenWeb is a connectionless protocol and switching between VPN endpoints around the world is very quick.

Using the OpenWeb protocol, a number of speed tests were completed using speedtest.net to 21 locations around the world and when compared to the ISP speed, when connected to the VPN the download speeds were between 2.8-96% of the ISP, while uploads were 0.9-63%. The low end of the range are the exception, the majority of the download test coming in over 500 Mbps which is extremely good for a VPN service! The uploads were slightly disappointing once traffic was switched to outside the continent, but for the tests that were being carried out from within the same continent, speeds were reaching over 300Mbps, again this is very good.

For an end user, watching videos on YouTube was impressive up to 4K resolution but there was some buffering at 8K for between 2-3 seconds. Which was slightly disappointing considering the good download speeds. Netflix was also able to be streamed at 4K without any access issues over the VPN.

One thing that was noted during the speeds test, was online adverts for China based services on the website. On further investigation it was found that when the Astrill VPN was connected, a proxy setting was being applied to the web browser that pointed to a local loopback address which routed the web browsing via the Astrill software. Even though the VPN was connected to various locations around the world, Chinese adverts were being shown which normally indicated the traffic is being routed via China, something to bear in mind.

Overall from an end user perspective the Astrill VPN software performed extremely well and produced fantastic download and upload speeds with quick connections to each of the VPN locations

Based on my opinion as a Senior Network and Firewall Engineer, I rate Astrill VPN 9/10.

    9
    9

    Is Astrill a Good Streaming VPN?

    The streaming capability of a VPN is an important consideration in today’s increasingly cordless home entertainment, as most streaming services block VPNs to comply with licensing deals. We therefore analyzed Astrill’s streaming capabilities ourselves using several of the most popular streaming services.

    Netflix: Partially Unblocked

    Netflix provides location-based catalogs, and the only way to make the most out of your subscription is to use a VPN to access titles from other countries. Astrill managed to help us access Netflix US, which is the largest Netflix library. A screenshot of Astrill accessing Netflix US, the largest Netflix library

    However, the VPN doesn’t provide any dedicated servers, so unblocking the service is a matter of trial and error. Further, it doesn’t unlock any other Netflix catalog. Therefore, we do not recommend the use of Astrill to unblock Netflix.

    Hulu: Blocked

    Hulu has continued to be one of the most popular streaming services, and it provides a large library of movies, TV shows, and Hulu originals, as well as an option for live TV. However, the service is restricted to the US, and you can’t use Astrill to bypass the restrictions as the VPN is blocked.

    BBC iPlayer: Blocked

    BBC is geo-restricted such that it can only be accessed from within the UK, and it also blocks most VPNs to prevent circumnavigation. Unfortunately, we found that Astrill VPN can’t bypass these restrictions.A screenshot of Astrill VPN fail to bypass BBC iPlayer

    Amazon Prime Video: Blocked

    Prime Video provides great value for money thanks to its commendable library of movies and cable TV shows, as well as the growing Amazon Prime originals list that includes Jack Ryan and The Boys. However, despite the service being available worldwide, only the US and UK versions can compete with the likes of Netflix. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to access them using Astrill VPN, as the service is blocked.

    DAZN: Blocked

    DAZN provides an amazing array of sports content, but it ties all accounts to a user’s country and requires an IP address from that region to access streams. This means that if you travel outside your country, you will need a VPN that unblocks the service to access streams. There are lots of top VPNs that can help you accomplish that, but we found that Astrill is not one of them. The VPN brings up the DAZN proxy notification when you try signing in.A screenshot of Astrill VPN fail to bypass DAZN

    Does Astrill Work with Any Other Services?

    During our Astrill VPN review, we also tested various other services such as Paramount+, HBO Now, iTV, and ZDF. Unfortunately, we couldn’t access any of them. This means that if you are looking for a streaming VPN, you may need to look at other options (especially if you’re paying $20 a month!).

    Torrenting with Astrill VPN

    Astrill allows the use of P2P services on its network. To use these services, you will first need to set the VPN to either OpenVPN or StealthVPN mode. You can then connect to one of the torrenting servers, which are marked with a yellow star. These support BitTorrent apps as well as manual and automatic port forwarding. The VPN provides a detailed guide on how to set port forwarding on P2P clients. Overall, Astrill is a great VPN for torrenting.

    Servers & Locations

    Astrill VPN provides a network that spans 107 cities in 57 countries. Unlike most VPNs, all the servers that Astrill VPN provides are physical (not VPSs). These servers provide either 1Gbps or 10 Gbps, and they are found in:

    • North America (3 countries)
    • South America (2 countries)
    • Asia (13 countries)
    • Europe (36 countries)
    • Africa (2 countries)

    The VPN tends to focus more on Asian users to help unblock the widespread restrictions in the region, hence the huge number of countries there. The other regions mainly have servers in just one location, except for the US, which has 26 cities.

    Astrill VPN provides a range of different server types:

    • Dedicated IP/Private IP (available for an additional Private IP fee)
    • Multi-Hop (Available for Astrill VIP users)
    • P2P optimized (marked with a yellow star)
    • SuperCharged (offering up t0 10 Gbit) – labeled 10 G

    The VIP servers require a more expensive subscription (an extra $10 a month) and are aimed at Asian users as they are located in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the USA, Japan, Singapore, Korea, and China.

    Astrill VPN Design: Feels Like Travelling Back to 2010

    Astrill VPN offers multiple apps that feature the same design on desktops but different designs on mobile devices. These apps offer excellent functionality, but their design may not be popular among users.

    To get an expert opinion on the UI/UX components of their applications, we tasked Oksana Ivanova, an experienced UX Designer, with reviewing Astrill’s VPN app designs across all devices.

    Our Expert Review and Rating of Astrill VPN's UI/UX Design

    Oksana Ivanova
    Oksana Ivanova
    User Interface Designer

    Astrill VPN features a design that was introduced in late 2018 across all devices and has not been changed since. Apart from that, the design itself varies from platform to platform, making the overall experience inconsistent.

    It’s also not possible to say that the application caters to beginners. There’s a lot of settings hidden from the main screen. Although there’s a one-click to connect option, it’s not very clear how to connect to a P2P server (it’s advertised on the website) on the first try. The Mac and Desktop applications are similar, but remind a lot about old, skeuomorphic designs for audio editing software from the early 2000s. For example, the first one that comes to mind is Winamp.

    The iOS application looks a lot like the apps for the first iPhone, with a very 2009-vibe. The biggest problem with the iOS application is that the settings are hidden in the row of the social media button at the very bottom. It makes them almost invisible and creates a feeling that there are no extra settings for this application.

    Among those applications, the Android one is one of the most modern-looking ones. Interesting moment: there’s an obvious advertisement right next to the VPN title. It invites the user to upgrade to some VIP services.

    It’s also important to mention that this VPN has a graphical interface for Linux, which is not what many other applications have. It looks similar to the Mac and Windows applications, although the corners of the main connection toggle are rounder. Taking into account the Linux environment, the GUI looks well-designed.

    Overall, it seems that the application caters to more advanced users, who know exactly what they are looking for and who are not put off by visual differences across multiple platforms.

    PROS Points CONS Points
    • 1-click to connect option
    +5
    • Inconsistent design across multiple devices
    -2
    • Support of multiple devices, including GUI for Linux
    +5
    • Questionable accessibility
    -2
    • Not clear how to connect to a P2P server
    -1
    • Outdated design on Windows, Mac, and iOS
    -1

    Based on my opinion as a UX Designer, I rate Astrill VPN's user interference and user experience 4/10.

      4
      4

      Compatibility

      Astrill VPN provides proprietary VPN apps that can be installed on different devices. Besides the apps, you can also set up the VPN manually using OpenVPN or WireGuard.

      Windows

      Astrill VPN has a Windows app that can be installed on:

      • Windows 7
      • Windows 8.1
      • Windows 10
      • Windows 11

      The VPN also supports OpenVPN manual configurations (tutorial) if you are using Windows Vista or Windows XP. You can also set up WireGuard manually (tutorial) on Windows 10.

      Mac

      You can install Astrill VPN on Mac devices running 10.14 (Mojave), 10.15 (Catalina), or 11 (Big Sur). Note that the VPN stopped supporting PPTP, IKEv2, L2TP, IPSEC, and SSTP earlier in 2021, so your manual configuration options may be limited.

      Linux

      Astrill VPN does well to provide a GUI app (DEB and RPM), and it can be installed on Debian, Ubuntu 16+, Linux Mint 10+, RedHat, Fedora, CentOS. You can also configure OpenVPN manually, and the VPN provides two ways you can do that:

      Astrill also provides a guide on how to configure WireGuard on Linux.

      Android

      You can install Astrill VPN on all Android devices that support VPN installation, including 4.4 (KitKat), 5 (Lollipop), 6 (Marshmallow), 7 (Nougat), 8 (Oreo), 9 (Pie), 10, or 11. You can also set up OpenVPN manually on Android 4.4 or higher.

      iOS

      You can install Astrill VPN on all iOS devices running iOS 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, or 15. You can also use OpenVPN Connect to set up the VPN on iOS 7.0 or higher.

      Home Router

      Astrill VPN provides a router applet that can be set up on DD-WRT and Asus Merlin routers. Apart from the applet, you can also configure the VPN manually on Tomato, pfSense, DD-WRT, Asus Merlin, and any other router that supports VPNs. Set-up guides are available on the Astrill VPN Wiki.

      Astrill VPN Apps and Extensions

      Now that we’ve looked at the devices where you can set up Astrill VPN, here’s an overview of what you can expect from the various client apps.

      Astrill App for Windows

      The Astrill VPN Windows isn’t the most attractive desktop app you’ll come across, and it looks quite outdated. The app features a compact design that shows the connection button, the selected server, and a network graph. Astrill App for Windows

      It comes with many configuration options that you can access by clicking the hamburger menu on the top left side. The features available include:

      • Split tunneling (Application Filter)
      • Ad Blocker
      • Port Forwarding
      • VPN Sharing
      • DNS configuration
      • Proxy settings
      • App Guard
      • Privacy Settings (kill switch, clearing cookies, and IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection)

      Astrill App settings

      There’s also a speed test option that opens a new tab for testing a server’s ping and download speeds. You can select the server(s) you’d like to test or test all of them.Astrill testing a server’s ping and download speeds

      Apart from these options, you can also switch a protocol by clicking the protocol label on the top right side. This lets you choose a protocol between:

      • OpenVPN
      • WireGuard
      • OpenWeb
      • Stealth VPN

      Astrill App protocol tab

      Note that the protocol you choose also affects the features that you get.

      To select a server, click the drop-down button beside the highlighted server. This will give you a list of all the available servers, and you can favorite any that you like. Astrill list of all the available servers

      Note that only OpenWeb allows you to switch servers when connected to the VPN, but the protocol is stateless, so it changes your server without requiring a reconnection.

      Astrill VPN App for Mac

      The Astrill VPN app for Mac is quite similar to its Windows counterpart. The app features the same minimized design with a huge connection button. 

      The menu option provides several options:

      • Ad Blocker
      • Split tunneling (Application Filter)
      • Port Forwarding
      • DNS configuration
      • Proxy settings
      • App Guard & kill switch
      • IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection

      The servers are not listed according to a region or alphabetical order, but you can enlarge the list under the menu options.

      Astrill VPN App for Linux

      Astrill VPN provides a GUI for Linux, which is quite commendable as most VPNs don’t. The app is available in DEB packages and RPM packages, which means that you can install it on most popular Linux distributions.

      Astrill VPN app for Linux looks just like its Windows and macOS counterparts, and it provides lots of features that include:

      • One-click connection
      • Application Filter
      • Ad Blocker
      • Port Forwarding
      • Proxy configuration
      • DNS configuration
      • App Guard
      • kill switch
      • IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection.

      The app also comes with OpenVPN, WireGuard, StealthVPN, and OpenWeb as the protocol options.

      Astrill VPN App for Android

      Astrill VPN has an Android app that can be installed from the Google Play Store. The app is quite simple, and it looks newer than the other Astrill VPN apps, although it’s still not as sleek as most VPN apps. The main page displays the connection button, the selected protocol, and the selected server.

      There’s a menu option on the top-right side that provides options that include:

      • Proxy settings
      • Application filter (split tunneling)
      • Battery optimization

      Astrill menu option on the top-right sideYou can click the huge button to connect, or you can select your preferred server first.Astrill ON button and next step to select preferred server

      The app lacks advanced features such as a kill switch, and it has an upsell that we really didn’t like.

      Astrill VPN App for iOS

      The Astrill VPN iOS app isn’t the most attractive that you’ll come across. The app features a 2010’ish design that shows a connection button, the selected server, and the VPN expiry date.

      The lower side has some social media buttons and a settings button that only provides modest options:

      • Always On VPN
      • Reconnect VPN
      • UDP activation

      The lower side of Astrill app has social media buttons and a settings button highlightedTo select a server, just click the selected server, and you’ll get the complete list.

      A screenshot of Astrill app to select a serverThe app only provides OpenVPN as the connection protocol.

      Any extension for browsers?

      Unfortunately, Astrill VPN doesn’t provide any browser extensions.

      Getting Started with Astrill VPN

      Getting started with Astrill VPN only requires a few steps. First off, head to the Astrill VPN website, provide your email address on the textbox provided and then click Sign Up Now.Astrill VPN website home page

      This will take you to the pricing page, where you can choose a plan among the three provided. Just below the plans, you will see the option of adding a private IP address for $5 a month or getting the VIP add-on for $10 a month.Screenshot of Astrill VPN pricing page and options to choose plan

      From there, you can create your account by providing a few things:

      • Your name
      • Your email address (if you didn’t in the first step)
      • Your password (and the confirmation)

      You can then fill the Word from Picture check and click Continue to payment.Screenshot of Astrill VPN website create your account page

      Astrill will now require you to agree to the terms of service. Click Yes, I agree to proceed.Screenshot of Astrill website page that require you to agree to the terms of service

      From there, the VPN will send you a confirmation link from where you can continue your sign-up process. Click the link, and you will be redirected to the checkout page, where you can choose a payment method. Screenshot of Astrill VPN checkout page, to choose a payment method

      The VPN will require some additional information such as your address, city, and ZIP code (you don’t have to provide your real details). 

      There’s a bitcoin payment option if you don’t wish to provide too many details, but we were disappointed to find that it requires mobile number verification. This means that Astrill VPN doesn’t provide an anonymous payment method, which is not much to ask for $20 a month.

      Nevertheless, you can start using your account with the details you provided after completing the checkout process.

      Just open the Astrill VPN app on the device you are using and enter the credentials you provided when creating your account.Screenshot Astrill VPN app enter the credentials to create your account

      From there, you can connect to Astrill VPN with just a single click!

      Screenshot of Astrill VPN appAstrill VPN’s Security: 4 Protocol Options, but Limited Features

      Astrill VPN provides encryption using AES 256-bit coupled with several other encryption standards. When using OpenVPN, you can change the encryption standard to AES-128-CBC or AES-196-CBC. 

      Unfortunately, we couldn’t find much information about the authentication and handshake standards used by Astrill VPN as the VPN terms the information as “confidential” – although you can tell that it uses 160-bit message hash SHA1 for HMAC authentication from packet analysis. 

      To get an expert opinion on whether Astrill VPN can be trusted to keep user data safe, we engaged John M., a seasoned Network and Cybersecurity Professional.

      Our Expert Review and Rating of Astrill VPN’s Security

      John Mulligan
      John Mulligan
      Cybersecurity Researcher

      Astrill VPN is a very solid VPN solution. They have been around since 2009 and take a different technical approach than many providers offering a custom solution rather than a rebranded OpenVPN server. They run their own proprietary protocols, OpenWeb and StealthVPN, while still supporting OpenVPN and wireguard. Their protocols have features and benefits that make them very appealing over the standard open source alternatives.  Openweb and StealthVPN are lightweight and can get past entities that do a deep inspection to block well-known protocols or traffic that resembles streaming or torrenting. If you are in a location with elevated censoring, they have features that may allow you to bypass their controls.

      The setup of the VPN is straightforward. You sign up at their website or one of their mirror sites if it is blocked. They offer applications for all the standard platforms and also an available plug-in for specific routers. You have the ability to sign up anonymously even paying with bitcoin. This paired with Astrill being a private company based out of the Republic of Seychelles creates as much anonymity as you can get. Seychelles has an excellent reputation for Internet privacy. They are under no legal obligation to respond to any orders and they do not keep any personal information even if they wanted to.  

      The Astrill solution offers a multitude of features like kill switches, application guards,  multi-hop, vpn sharing, and ip/dns leak prevention. On top of this, their proprietary protocols were designed to get around the most stringent censorship. Avoiding using standard protocols is a step, but the traffic is also masked so even entities doing deep packet inspection can be bypassed. If you can’t stream or browse using the standard protocols offered by other solutions, it is worth your time to look at OpenWeb or Stealth VPN as an alternative.  

      There are very few negative things about their solution. If you wanted to be picky, they do not have any 3rd party audit on their no logging policy. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that they are logging or providing user information to governments or 3rd party vendors, but the outside certification is missing. Also, their open source protocols are slightly outdated. If for some reason you prefer OpenVPN or Wireguard over their inhouse protocols, you are using a version that is from 2020.

      Astrill VPN is a great solution, going above the common off the shelf VPN solutions. There is a reason they are one of the only options for users residing in China. My score for this solution would be near perfect if they took the time to get a 3rd party audit on their logs. Their physical location is great for Internet Privacy, but increased piece of mind would come from this one extra step. Also, they need to update their OpenVPN and Wireguard protocols, even though they are not the default. No reason not to keep them current. 

      Overall I would give them a very strong 7/10 and would recommend them as a solution.

        7
        7

        Astrill VPN Protocol Options

        Astrill VPN provides several protocols that are meant to help users achieve different objectives.

        • OpenWeb: This is a proprietary protocol developed in 2009, and it is the default protocol on most Astrill VPN apps. The protocol is based on TCP, and it is connectionless, so you can switch servers without needing VPN reconnection. The protocol is lightweight and fast, and it easily bypasses DPI blocking as the traffic looks like regular SSL traffic.
        • StealthVPN: This is another proprietary protocol meant for users in highly censored regions. The protocol is based on OpenVPN (and is therefore secure), but it adds an extra SSL encryption layer to make the traffic undetectable. StealthVPN works well in China and is therefore the recommended protocol when using a VPN in China.
        • OpenVPN: OpenVPN is regarded as the gold standard in the VPN world thanks to its excellent security and great speeds. The protocol is compatible with almost every platform, and it can be set up manually if you find the Astrill VPN client too complex (or boring).
        • WireGuard: WireGuard is a modern protocol that is simple, fast, and secure. The protocol has been reviewed by cryptographers, and it’s meant to be a replacement for the complex and relatively slower OpenVPN.

        Note that some features are only available when you select a certain protocol.

        Astrill VPN Security Features

        Astrill VPN provides several features to complement the security provided through encryption.

        A Kill Switch

        A kill switch is an important privacy and security feature as it prevents exposure whenever your device loses connection to the Astrill VPN servers. The feature is quite useful for users who deal with sensitive data, and they don’t want to risk either security, privacy, or confidentiality exposure.

        App Guard

        App Guard is a variation of the kill switch, and it lets you select the apps you want to block whenever the VPN connection is lost. For example, if you torrent using qBittorrent or any other client, you can set it to be blocked whenever the VPN is not connected while the other apps remain operational.

        Leak Protection

        Leaks usually happen whenever your IP address, DNS requests, or WebRTC information are accidentally passed outside the VPN tunnel. The leaks can be due to multiple reasons, but Astrill VPN helps block them by providing three features:

        • Fix IP Leak
        • Fix DNS Leak
        • Fix WebRTC Leak

        All these are found under Privacy on the desktop applications.

        Ad Blocking

        Astrill VPN has an ad blocker on its desktop apps, and we found it quite effective. However, we noticed that the ad blocker doesn’t work when using the OpenWeb protocol during our tests.

        Astrill VPN Reliability: Concern Is Warranted

        Astrill VPN is registered in the Seychelles, which is a great choice of location as the region doesn’t have any invasive privacy laws. This is enhanced by the fact that the VPN doesn’t keep any usage information.

        However, it is not a “strict privacy policy” as advertised. When you check out the privacy policy, you’ll find that the VPN states that:

        “Our system keeps track of active sessions –  connection time, IP address, device type, and Astrill VPN application version during the duration of your VPN session. Once you disconnect from VPN, this information is removed permanently from our system.”

        Further, the VPN

        “keeps the last 20 connection records which include: connection time, connection duration, country, device type, and Astrill client application version number.”

        The fact that only the last 20 connection records are kept may be acceptable to most users, but still, there are VPNs that keep less connection and usage logs.

        To give you an expert analysis of Astrill VPN’s privacy, we enlisted the help of another industry expert, Gillian Carrington, a regulatory lawyer specializing in data protection and AI.

        Our Expert Review and Rating of Astrill VPN’s Reliability

        Gillian Carrington Lawyer
        Gillian Carrington
        Privacy & Data Protection Lawyer

        This Privacy Policy is showing its age. It seems to have been drafted without regard to any recent legislation regulating data privacy. 

        The GDPR set certain global standards in its data processing principles regarding, among other things, transparency, the need for companies to give particulars of the personal data they process, accountability and data subjects’ rights. It has influenced the approach in other legislation such as CCPA. A good, modern Privacy Policy is grounded in understanding and applying these global standards so as to ensure that users know what is happening to their personal data, know why it is happening and know what to do if they have concerns.

        Positive aspects of the Astrill VPN Privacy Policy include (i) complying with the data minimization principle as far as possible by holding minimal personal data, (ii) communicating in a user-friendly manner (iii) committing to safeguarding users’ privacy by not logging and storing users’ connection or behavioral data and (iv) respect for Do Not Track notices.

        On the negative side, this is a very untransparent Policy. Who is really processing personal data and where? There is no real information about the company to be found on its website and very little elsewhere. No valid GDPR justification for the processing of personal data is offered. Users’ rights are not even mentioned and no contact information is given for users wishing to exercise those rights. Data transfers are not dealt with. There is no adequate ePrivacy or Cookie information. Policies should be reviewed at a minimum every year and amended if necessary. Three and a half years without reviewing the Policy is a very long time in the lifecycle of the modern Privacy Policy. 

        We rate Astrill VPN's Privacy Policy  4/10.

          4
          4

          Astrill VPN Customer Support

          Regardless of the VPN you are using, you can easily run into problems or require clarification on a certain issue. Luckily, Astrill VPN makes it easy to get any assistance you may need through multiple means.

          Live Chat Support

          Astrill VPN provides 24/7 live chat support, which is quite commendable as you can start talking to an agent within seconds. During our Astrill VPN review, we checked multiple times at different times of the day, and the live chat team was available every time.Screenshot of Astrill VPN chat window

          Email/ Ticket Support

          If you’d like more technical help, the VPN provides a support form on the website that creates for you a ticket with the team (you can choose between Sales and Tech). When testing the reliability of the support, we got a reply (and a comprehensive one) after just 63 minutes!

          Apart from the support form, you can also reach out to the team via support@astrill.com.

          FAQs, Guides, & Tutorials

          You don’t have to contact the team every time you have an issue as the VPN provides setup guides for all supported devices. There are also FAQs on the website and video tutorials that can help you get started with the VPN.

          Astrill Business Structure

          Using a VPN means that you are transferring your data from your ISP and entrusting it with the VPN. This means that knowing the business entity behind the VPN and understanding how the VPN is run is quite crucial.

          However, Astrill seems to have taken the corporate privacy provided in its country of registration with both hands, and it doesn’t reveal much about the business. This is according to our business consultant, Davit Kirakosyan, and below is his detailed analysis.

          Our Expert Review and Rating of Astrill VPN’s Business Structure

          Davit Kirakosyan
          Davit Kirakosyan
          Business Consultant

          Astrill Systems Corp was founded in Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles in 2009.  In Seychelles corporate privacy is protected by law, which means the public has no access to the register of directors or founders, no access to the data of shareholders or beneficial owners, etc.

          There is no public info regarding the company’s founders, funding, current owners, holdcos. I made an assumption that Veloxee Corp is the holding company, as it is registered as a seller for Astrill apps sold on Apple App Store and Mac App Store.

          There is no official info on the company’s financials, and the websites, which estimate companies’ revenues, provide a very wide range for the Astrill’s revenue (from $1.9 million to $19 million).

          The company’s business model is SaaS for both private individuals and businesses, however the company is focused mostly towards travelers and expats, according to the official website.

          After the first year of being in business, Astrill expanded to USA and EU markets and to Middle-East and Asian markets after almost 10 years. Now it’s available in almost 60 countries.

          Since Nov 2019, the company provided no info on its website blog and official Facebook page, which adds even more negative to the already less transparent company image.

          From 20+ employees mentioned in the official website, there are only 13 on LinkedIn, out of which 6 people are working remotely, based on the personal info on Linkedin profiles. There is only one person having a managerial position as stated on LinkedIn. 

          Based on my opinion as a business consultant, I rate Astrill 4/10 in terms of its business structure. Compared to other VPN companies, there is less transparency except the business model. Little is known about the founders, funding, financial performance, or details of the operating and holding company.

          In terms of its business structure, I rate Astrill 4/10

            4
            4

            Astrill VPN Pricing: The Most Expensive VPN?

            Astrill VPN offers three plans:

            • A month plan
            • A 6-month plan
            • A yearly plan

            The one-month plan will set you back $20 each month, which makes Astrill one of the most expensive VPNs. The longer-term plans give you a discount, but these don’t really bring the cost down significantly.

            Here’s a breakdown of the three plans:

            Plan Price Discount Savings
            1 Month Plan $20.00/month 0%
            6 Months Plan $15.00/month 25% $30 over 6 months 
            12 Months Plan $10.00/month 50% $120 over 12 months

            When subscribing, you will see two add-ons that you can add to your subscription:

            • A Private IP Address: $5 a month
            • Astrill VIP Addon: $10 a month

            The VIP add-on offers prioritized traffic, multi-hop, and latency reduction for users in Asia. This means that to get the best out of Astrill VPN, you will have to part with $30 a month or $240 a year.

            If you wish to use the VPN in a business environment, Astrill VPN provides three additional features for their business VPN:

            • Managing accounts for employees with business control panel
            • Free 100 GB data on VIP services
            • Unlimited devices

            The VPN does not provide an option to pay for a business account monthly; only a yearly payment is accepted. The total price per business account depends on:

            1. The number of accounts needed (from 10 to 200)
            2. The add-on VIP data package option

            The minimum and max package price is illustrated in the table below:

            Plan Price Discount Savings
            10 accounts $1,080 per year

            ($9.00/month/user, including 100GB of VIP services traffic/month)

            10% $120/year
            200 accounts $20,100 per year

            ($8.38/month/user, including 1000GB of VIP services traffic/month)

            16.25% $3900/year

            Payment Methods

            Astrill VPN accepts payments through:

            • Credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express, Cirrus, Discover)
            • Cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Monero)
            • PayPal, Perfect Money, WebMoney, AliPay, UnionPay

            Free Trial? Money-Back Guarantee?

            Astrill VPN does not provide a free trial, but you can get one if you sign up via iOS. However, the VPN highly discourages using this option by making it more expensive ($23.99 a month) and restricting your account to iOS devices and only a single connection at a time. 

            This means that you won’t get value for your money, so the only option is to (suck it up and?) pay for the VPN’s monthly plan. And if you are thinking about asking for a refund after a few days, you’ll be disappointed to hear that you can’t. Astrill VPN doesn’t provide a refund for whatever reason.

            So how does this all sound and how does it compare to other VPNs? Here’s the opinion of Hanna Kolesnichenko, our Management Consultant.

            Our Expert Review and Rating of Astrill VPN’s Pricing

            Anna Kolesnichenko
            Anna Kolesnichenko
            Management Consultant

            The review of Astrill’s VPN pricing structure shows that the three-tiered plans entice customers to sign up for the 1-year commitment with a 50% discount versus the monthly. The price and discount are the same for all countries except for Android customers from Europe and North America, who can enjoy a free subscription. The inclusion of 3 tiers takes advantage of the Good-Better-Best principle and incentivizes at least the choice. However, even with the variety of add-on features built into Astrill’s VPN service, the price is above average compared to competitors. Atrill’s price at $20 per month as a basic plan is almost twice higher than competitors’ proposition per month ($11.95 NordVPN, $9.99 TopGuard VPN, $12.95 ExpressVPN). Talking about a 1-year plan, Astrill’s $10 per month is still almost doubling competitors’ price tag per month ($4.92 NordVPN, $4.99 TopGuard VPN, $6.67 ExpressVPN). Talking about Astrill’s add-ons, if we chose similar additional features of competitors and added their cost to the plan, Astrill’s basic price with add-ons remains higher than competitors plans with additional features. Astrill’s price strategy is clearly above the market average, and Astrill’s VPN plan is considered one of the most expensive on the market.

            In terms of messaging, it is easy to find Astrill’s pricing terms in the top header, as well as information about business plans. In terms of customer experience, the business offer page and the personal plan page are easy to read and follow, and total price is quickly updated based on chosen additional features. All advantages of different plans are clearly communicated, except one – money-back guarantee. By purchasing a plan, a customer can not foresee the absence of a money refund after cancellation. However, Astrill explicitly stated their free cancelation policy in the FAQ section and terms of use – you can cancel anytime without refunding. On top of that, if the product is not working on the customer’s computer because the ISP blocks VPN service, Astrill will not provide a refund. Such a practice could lead to the rise of dissatisfied clients turning from Astrill’s promoters to haters. Also, the no-refund policy does not meet market standards.

            In terms of pricing psychology, Astrill highlights the most beneficial yearly plan ($10 per month), among others, which takes advantage of the anchoring strategy. In terms of their customer proposition, Astrill offers a 7-day free trial for iOS and free subscription for Android, and clearly separates platform clients that could lead to the shift of iOS customers to competitors.

            Based on my opinion as a management consultant, I rate VPN Astrill Pricing Strategy 4/10.

              4
              4

              Extra Features

              Apart from the functionalities we have mentioned above, a VPN’s extra features determine the extra functionalities you will get from the service. Astrill VPN does well here as it provides quite a number.

              Split Tunneling (Application Filter)

              Split tunneling is a useful feature that allows you to use two connections on a single device. On Astrill VPN, it works by letting you choose the apps or websites you’d like to tunnel through the VPN and the ones that should use your regular connection.

              This can be done using three modes:

              • Tunnel all apps
              • Tunnel only selected apps
              • Exclude selected apps

              There are also similar modes for websites, and the OpenWeb protocol gives an extra option for tunneling browsers only.

              Port Forwarding

              This feature allows you to open your device to external connections through the VPN, and it can be quite useful for torrenting as it increases speed by allowing seeders to send data to you. It can also be useful if you want to set up a game server. 

              When using the Astrill VPN with a shared IP address, you can forward traffic to a preselected port, but you can forward traffic to any port if you have a dedicated IP address. However, before you use the feature, you need to be aware of the dangers it presents.

              Onion over VPN (Deep Web Access)

              Ever wanted to access the deep web without using the Tor Browser? Well, Astrill VPN allows you to. The VPN provides deep web access on all its servers, and you won’t need to add any special configurations to access this hidden part of the internet. The functionality relies on domain detection, so the VPN will automatically route your traffic through the Tor network whenever you type in a .onion domain.

              Stealth

              The ability to bypass any form of censorship, including China’s Great Firewall, is arguably the biggest selling point for Astrill VPN. When the VPN was starting, it targeted expats traveling to Asia by providing a VPN that could bypass the DPI blocks in most countries. Since then, it has added StealthVPN to OpenWeb and expanded to other countries, and it’s still one of the most reliable VPNs in China and other highly restricted countries.

              Multi-Hop (VIP Only)

              If you’d like to go for Astrill VPN’s VIP package, you will get access to multi-hop. This is a functionality that offers more privacy by routing your traffic through two servers instead of one. The added server adds an extra layer of encryption and makes it harder to trace user activities. 

              Astrill VPN's VIP package give access to multi-hop

              Image: https://www.astrill.com/network/multi-hop-vpn

              Astrill VPN allows up to three servers in multi-hop connections. However, the extra servers added to your connection lead to a significant decrease in speed, so the functionality should only be used when necessary.

              VPN Sharing

              VPN Sharing is an awesome Astrill VPN feature that lets you share your VPN connection over the entire home network without even using a VPN router.

              An awesome Astrill VPN feature of VPN Sharing

              Image: https://www.astrill.com/features/vpn-sharing

              The feature works by tunneling the entire home network through your computer’s VPN tunnel, and it requires you to change the Gateway (Router) and DNS to your computer’s IP address (shown on the app).

              Pros and Cons

              Pros Cons
              Excellent speeds Hefty price tag
              Works in China and other highly censored countries Outdated app designs
              Works with Netflix US Google appears in Chinese irrespective of the server location 
              Solid privacy and security No money-back guarantee
              Specialized P2P & torrent servers
              Lots of advanced features and functionalities
              Great customer support
              Based in Seychelles

              Conclusion

              Astrill VPN comes out as a decent VPN service as it offers excellent speeds and solid privacy and security. It also provides several advanced functionalities such as obfuscation, Onion over VPN, VPN sharing, split tunneling, and port forwarding, among others.

              However, the VPN also has its fair share of shortcomings, especially when it comes to the pricing, app designs, transparency, and the streaming capabilities. Overall, it gives a mixed experience, but it is still a good fit for power users and those traveling to or living in countries with high levels of censorship.