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