Astrill VPN has a reputation for unblocking restricted websites in China — which surprised me because until writing this review, I’d never heard of it. Since even well-known VPNs often have issues working in China, I decided to run several in-depth tests to determine if Astrill deserves a spot in the top VPNs list.
I focused on the most important features for a VPN: speed, security, streaming capability, privacy, and overall value for the price. After my tests, I was extremely impressed by its speeds and security, but was discouraged by its high cost and limited streaming abilities.
Unfortunately, Astrill only offers a 7-day free trial. If you’d like a VPN that offers additional features and gives you more time to try it, check out ExpressVPN’s much longer free period of 30 days with its money-back guarantee.
Astrill claims to support most major streaming services, although this was only half-true during my tests. I was able to unblock Netflix, HBO Max and NOW, and Disney+, but couldn’t access Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, or the BBC iPlayer.
I recommend that you use Astrill’s OpenWeb protocol for streaming since it’s optimized for speeds and you can switch between servers almost instantly.
Astrill VPN is a great choice for unblocking multiple Netflix libraries, including:
Thanks to the speed of Astrill’s OpenWeb protocol (default on Windows), I could immediately play all streams in extremely high quality. I was also impressed that OpenWeb switches between locations instantly, unlike many other VPN protocols that take several seconds to change servers. This way, you can quickly and easily jump between Netflix libraries.
I also had minimal buffering with all of the servers I used (even with the Australia server which is over 15,500 km away from me!). Most surprisingly, I didn’t have to wait for stream quality to increase after the initial load like with most VPNs.
I had mixed results with HBO and couldn’t watch when connected to some US servers like New York. I kept getting this error message:
“Access Denied. You don’t have permission to access “http://www.hbomax.com/” on this server.”
Once I connected to the Los Angeles servers, I no longer had any issues. Then I was able to stream Curb Your Enthusiasm with the Los Angeles A and B servers. Buffering took just 7 seconds and the stream quality was almost immediately full HD.
I was able to unblock Disney+ on Astrill VPN with 5 Disney+ server locations (US, Canada, UK, Japan, and Germany). The streams loaded in just 5 seconds with immediate full HD quality, even using distant servers.
I tried connecting to Hulu US with multiple servers, but was either unable to bypass the error page below or encountered a blank white page. This is likely due Hulu recognizing all of Astrill’s US IP addresses as belonging to a VPN.
When I accessed the BBC iPlayer with a London server connection, I saw the following error:
“BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.”
Astrill customer support told me that if you buy a private UK IP address from them, this will solve the issue. This makes it far less likely that your connection is recognized as a VPN and gives you more reliable access. Note that this is an added cost on top of your subscription.
Connecting to Amazon Prime also displayed an error:
“Your device is connected to the Internet using a VPN or proxy service. Please disable it and try again. For more help, go to amazon.co.uk/vpn.”
I also spoke to customer support about this, and they recommended the same solution as with the BBC iPlayer — buying a private US IP address.
ExpressVPN can reliably unblock Hulu, the BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, and all other services on this list at no extra cost. I tested ExpressVPN with multiple streaming providers and was extremely impressed with its reliability and quality.
I had high speeds with all of the Astrill servers I tested, even with the Sydney servers over 15,000 km from me! The highest speeds I reached were 362Mbps with a Frankfurt server, with the slowest being 236Mbps (on a Sydney server). Since full HD streaming requires 5Mbps and 4K needs 25Mbps, you won’t have any problems with streaming despite the distance of the server from you. From my experience, Astrill gives you plenty of bandwidth for speedy browsing, streaming, and downloading without interrupting your other activities.
When you game online, you need the lowest possible latency (server delay), especially when playing fast-paced games such as first-person shooters. Fortunately, gaming on Astrill’s servers was a great experience when it worked.
I started my tests by trying to play Call of Duty: Warzone, but the game wouldn’t let me connect when I was connected to an Astrill server. I had the same issue when playing Rainbow Six: Siege.
Luckily, the other games I tested worked well. In Rocket League, my ping increased from 34ms to 44ms, and in Apex Legends it changed from 32ms to 38ms — essentially unnoticeable. I played a few rounds of each game and had a great experience with no lag or interrupted connectivity. Although it’s annoying that some games don’t work at all, Astrill offered a better experience in the games that worked than most VPNs are capable of.
Speed determines how fast content uploads, so if you're torrenting or streaming, you want the speed to be somewhat identical to your regular internet speed. Since a VPN encrypts your data, it usually takes a bit longer to send your data back and forth, which can slow down your connection. However, if your ISP deliberately slows down your connection (also known as throttling) a VPN might increase your internet speed. Testing a VPN is somewhat pointless because new servers pop up and affect speed. Your speed can also differ according to your location, so your speed test might not match ours. Having said that, we tested the speed in numerous locations to provide you with the average.
Astrill has servers in 110 cities spread across 59 countries. Unfortunately, they don’t state an exact number of servers, making it hard to compare them against its competitors (although it’s a few hundred). However, it claims to only use fast, dedicated servers instead of the slower virtual private servers that many other VPNs rent from third-parties. During my testing, I noticed that Astrill’s servers give it a good performance edge.
First, I tested the OpenWeb protocol while connecting to multiple servers, including New York, London, Frankfurt, Montreal, Tokyo, Sydney, and various other global cities. All servers connected in under 3 seconds, with local servers taking just 1 second!
Then I tested connecting with the OpenVPN protocol, which slowed connections down to around 6 seconds. This is due to the longer “handshake” process (when encryption keys are exchanged at the start of a connection) that OpenVPN requires that OpenWeb doesn’t. Either way, you won’t be waiting long to get connected.
Astrill has a variety of basic and advanced protocols and security features to keep your data safe.
A key security feature of a VPN is a kill switch — it completely disconnects you from the internet if your VPN connection fails. This prevents you from exposing any data that could be used against you. I tested Astrill’s integrated kill switch on my Windows PC by activating it and then disconnecting from a server multiple times. It worked every time without fail. You can also use the App Guard to block internet access to specific apps instead of everything. This is useful in certain instances, such as when you’re torrenting.
IP and DNS leak protection are used to prevent your real addresses from being linked to your online activity. As you can see below, Astrill passed all the leak tests.
Astrill VPN also supports a number of customizable encryption types and protocols, like:
These protocols are designed to hide your online traffic and allow you to browse privately without being observable by your ISP, users sharing your local network, or even hackers. Its StealthVPN protocol was also specially designed to hide the fact you’re using a VPN from your ISP — ideal for China or other restrictive countries.
Astrill claims it has a “strict no-logs policy,” but there’s a little more nuance to the policy than that. Its system keeps track of active sessions (connection time, IP address, device type, and Astrill VPN application version) — but all of this is deleted once you disconnect from the VPN. This is supposedly just to prevent too many devices from connecting to a single account. It also measures the amount of data used in aggregate to measure how effective its network is at handling this load, but this data is anonymous.
The only data kept longer are the last 20 connection records including connection time, duration, country, device type, and Astrill client application version number. This is retained for 30 days to provide customer support but isn’t tied to your IP address, making it anonymous. Most importantly, Astrill states that the system is designed so that it can’t see which websites were accessed by specific clients. Although Astrill stores some data, it’s in line with what most premium VPNs log and doesn’t store any identifiable information. It’s also based in the Seychelles, where it doesn’t have any legal obligation to keep or provide logs to authorities.
When I tested Astrill’s ad blocker, I experienced mixed results. This is supposed to increase privacy (and reduce irritation at pop-ups), though I saw ads on roughly 70% of websites after I visited a number of sites known to be full of ads (including Forbes, Business Insider, and IGN). While some sites were ad-free, the majority weren’t so you’d be better off using a dedicated ad-blocker if you choose Astrill.
Astrill supports torrenting, but not with all servers. You can easily find a server that supports P2P traffic by choosing one that has a gold star next to the name.
The process isn’t quite as simple as with other VPNs but only takes a minute to set up. Simply open the Astrill settings and enable port forwarding. Then go to your torrent software (qBittorrent in my case) and enter the same port as in Astrill into the incoming port setting normally under the Connection category. Be sure to also enable NAT-PMP or UPnP under the same category.
I tested this by downloading a video file while connected to a server closest to me. My average speed was super fast at 16 MiB/s (134Mbps) with a maximum of 330Mbps. I downloaded the 2.77GB file in just 3 minutes!
Astrill is actually ranked #1 on the best VPNs for China list. This is impressive considering very few VPNs actually work in the country.
Astrill has incorporated a number of custom technologies that enable it to easily bypass China’s internet censorship. This includes StealthVPN, which is a proprietary protocol developed by Astrill on top of OpenVPN — it hides the fact that you’re even using a VPN, making it harder for firewalls to detect.
The addition of Smart Mode ensures that you draw even less attention to your online activity. When you connect to a site from outside China, Astrill will automatically connect but default to a local Chinese IP address when you’re using a local website. This prevents your IP address from getting blocked in China and gives you much higher speeds, while retaining the high-end encryption while getting global access.
It’s easiest to download Astrill before you arrive in the country since China regularly blocks VPN sites. Luckily, you can still download it from astrill-mirror.com if you’re already within China.
You can connect up to 5 devices with your Astrill subscription at the same time.
I tested this by connecting a Windows, Mac, 2 Android phones, and an iPhone — there was no slowdown or loss of connectivity on any of the devices.
You can use Astrill on the following devices:
If you need support for more devices, CyberGhost offers 7 device connections under a single subscription. You can try it for free for 45 days with its money-back guarantee.
Astrill’s app interface is straightforward and functional, making it simple to navigate. You won’t have a problem with its limited list of settings and easy-to-find essential features.
The only issue I had was that Astrill’s desktop app was set on default to only tunnel your browser traffic. If I torrented before noticing this, I would have been exposing my real IP and DNS addresses — not ideal if you get caught with copyrighted material.
Astrill’s mobile apps are extremely basic and don’t offer the same functions as on desktop. Instead, you can choose between servers, protocol types, and specific apps to run through the VPN. For the first time you launch Astrill on Android, you’ll also be asked to turn off battery optimization for the app for “consistent results”. When I turned this off and on, I couldn’t notice a difference in performance — your experience may vary depending on your own device.
You can remove Astrill on Windows by going to Programs and Features in the Control Panel, selecting the program, and clicking uninstall. On Mac, drag Astrill from Applications to Trash.
On Android, hold down the Astrill icon and click Uninstall, or drag it to the uninstall sign on the screen. On iOS, hold down the app icon and click the X at the top of the app.
I expect high-quality support for a premium service and Astrill delivers.
You can get support through:
I contacted Astrill’s support through live chat and was connected in 2 minutes. Finding the option for live chat was easy, compared to several other providers that make it intentionally difficult to find the chat option. I asked the support agent for information on streaming services, but I didn’t get a clear answer.
I also submitted a question through the support form and waited for the email reply — it took just 20 minutes! If you prefer to find the answer for yourself, the manuals and FAQs are also full of in-depth information. The manuals are actually hosted on a separate Astrill Wiki page in extreme detail on numerous technical issues. The FAQs are available in 14 languages and give a good amount of more general answers.
We personally test the customer support team of every VPN we review. This means asking technical question through the live chat feature (where applicable) and measuring the response time for email questions. Whether you need to connect to a specific server, change your security protocol, or configure a VPN on your router, finding a VPN with quality customer support should be important to you.
Astrill is one of the more expensive VPNs available, with prices quite a bit higher than many of the frontrunners in the VPN market. However, Astrill offers premium service with high speeds, extensive security features, and support in China — so it’s up to you to determine whether it’s worth the price for your needs.
You can pay for Astrill with the following payment methods:
Unlike many VPNs that offer lengthy money-back periods, Astrill doesn’t permit refunds on any of its plans.
Instead, you can sign up for its free trial — simply visit the Astrill homepage with this link, find the free trial box, and enter your email. You’ll have to verify your phone number (to prevent multiple sign-ups from the same user), but there’s no need to enter any payment details. Although it lacks a refund policy, this free trial is about as easy as it gets to experience the service risk-free.