We all know VPNs are all the rage right now. Internet privacy and security are as big of a concern as global warming at this point! We live in strange times now where personal and private data are the biggest commodity of today.
Hence, a market for VPNs was born. At this point, we don’t need to explain what a VPN is and what it does. If it’s worth anything, all we want to know is what a VPN doesn’t do, right?
If you live in India, there’s a good chance you might’ve heard about Astrill VPN. Astrill has been in the business for over 10 years now and has amassed a million subscribers worldwide growing.
So what makes Astrill our hot topic today? Well, we went deep into Astrill’s service to see what all the fuss is about and tried it out before you do. Let’s dive in find out if it is worth your time money.
Let’s be honest: Performance makes all the difference. We wouldn’t recommend a VPN service if the performance was sub-par or mediocre. Performance stands as a barometer for the quality of a VPN. SPEED is the goal.
How we measure a VPN’s speed is through the site Speedtest which can accurately display what our current download and upload speeds are. Believe it or not, often times it’s more accurate than you might think.
What you see above is our current network speed, which looks good enough to conduct the test. We booted up Astrill’s windows application to check the speeds and ran the test again.
As you might see, the results are very impressive. Our total download speeds are increased by a good 10 Mbps. But the upload speeds dropped by a few Mbps too.
So, you’re gaining more download speed but on the other hand, you’re also losing some on uploads.
Now, the trade-off is indeed strange. But if it means anything, the download speeds provide an advantage because most broadband companies configure download speeds faster than the upload speeds.
Since now we know what the speeds are let’s check out what you can do with these. We tried out Netflix first because of its one of the most popular uses of a VPN service: Accessing Netflix from restricted areas.
Netflix worked fine as expected. You can easily access Netflix with Astrill’s dozens of USA servers. The speed turned out fine with no glitches or quality drops. Next up, we tried another popular application of a VPN: Torrenting.
We tried torrenting the latest LTS release of Ubuntu on the ‘USA – Los Angeles VV1’ server. With a fair amount of seeds available, the download was done in around 15 minutes. Hence, we do get the promised download speeds.
All in all, everything feels fair and square in the performance department. The speeds are nice, Netflix/torrent work with no interruptions whatsoever.
Ease of Use
Although, VPNs have a very straight-forward approach to Ease of Use. All you need to do in most cases is find your desired country server and switch the VPN on. That’s it. All your traffic will be redirected to that server until you switch it off.
No two VPN services nor the interfaces are the same. They all need a little time to get used to, depending on the service. We don’t usually pay any mind to the UI but make no mistakes it does matter.
Clicking on the dropdown button below the switch will open up the available servers list with the country names. We spotted a few grey ones which meant the server was down at the moment.
Astrill’s standalone application looks more like a browser extension than a fully standalone application. While you don’t obviously need the biggest UI, you certainly need the required functionality.
On the front, the application has a literal On-off switch. Right under it is a small graph that shows live upload/download stats. The bottom left corner shows the amount of time left on our trial period.
The dropdown menu is on the top left, which displays all the additional options of the application including logout exit. Next, we clicked on the first option in the dropdown menu ‘User Interface’.
At this point, it suffice to say that UI isn’t the greatest strength of Astrill. The small form factor of the application seems to curb the experience a bit. Not that a pretty UI is essential, a simple UI could be easier on CPU usage.
But the point is that a majority of options are crammed in a tight space making navigation tedious. Hence, a bit more space could’ve certainly helped.
In a lot of cases, there isn’t a price-to-feature variation when it comes to VPN services. You get all the features as any other plan but only pay according to the subscription period.
At first glance, Astrill seems to fall on the expensive side of things. The most popular plan is $10.00/month with an annual total of $120.00. For 6 months, its $15.00/month and if you wish to go by month, it comes to $20.00/month.
There are addons available for a more VIP experience. You can Private IPs for $5.00/month. A VIP add-on that gives you access to VIP servers in each country for $10.00/month and an official router at $50.
Compared to a lot of the competition, Astrill is certainly a bit costly. Whereas even some of the bigger names like NordVPN provide annual deals right under $10.00. Let’s check out what Astrill offers for its price:
First off, Astrill supports all major platforms including Linux, Android routers as well. However, there are no browser extensions available for any web browsers. Hence, the only way to use the service is through the standalone application for the respective platforms.
Next to the dropdown menu, is another option to select between internet protocols or modes that would suit your needs.
- OpenWeb is a connectionless protocol that makes server switching fast and perfect for countries with elevated censorship.
- OpenVPN implements point-to-point or site-to-site connections routed/bridged for remote access facilities.
- StealthVPN is basically OpenVPN with an additional ability to move through automated firewall systems traffic.
- WireGuard is an open-source protocol that creates a point-to-point secure connection in routed/bridged configurations.
Astrill has Split Tunneling, a feature that lets you decide which sites go through the VPN and which don’t. The UI says it all, you can simply type the URL of sites you want the VPN to tunnel.
Although there are no browser extensions available, Astrill can be used for nearly every major browser out there, with the added option to include/exclude any to your liking.
Astrill also has an inbuilt ad-blocker to block ads tracking sites. You can review and edit the blocking list to go through each manually and add URLs to sites you want to be blocked.
Astrill also offers VPN sharing over your computer’s network without the need for an external VPN router or hardware. You can connect your phone, tablet or other computers with this network and keep using the service.
The last feature on this list is Astrill’s own Speedtester. This application can test the speed of every available server in your list and create speed stats, so you can go to the fastest one available without wasting time. So, not everything on Astrill is small.
All in all, the pricing-to-feature ratio feels justified. Although bundled in a small UI, the functionality being offered is certainly present.
In the case of VPN services, you don’t necessarily NEED customer support but poor or lack thereof of proper customer support can be a concern.
Astrill offers support in the form of Setup Manuals, Live Chat, FAQ, Video Tutorials, Contact form Support Live Chat. Let’s start-off with Astrill’s Live Chat client as its the most popular form of support to be used.
If you go over to Astrill’s official page, you can find the chat icon at the bottom right corner. Clicking on it opens the window above. It’s different from a lot of other chat clients we have used before but nothing too extraordinary.
We put on all the details with a question and awaited a response. It took a couple of minutes but as you might see, ‘Shawn’ joined in the conversation soon enough.
It took some time to receive a reply but we did get it eventually. It was informative and to the point. We asked another question and other than the pacing, Live Chat support is satisfactory. Nothing to write home about but certainly useful.
That’s all for Live Chat support. Let’s head on to Astrill’s knowledge base:
The FAQ section is very functional, to say the least. There are questions and then there are answers. Sometimes that’s all you want but Astrill certainly doesn’t emphasize. Although you can get help, more often than not, you could feel a bit shorthanded.
As for the manuals though, Astrill has their own Wiki page with detailed instructions for all the above platforms. Although not the FAQ, you can certainly see the effort being pushed by Astrill here.
This section had a step-by-step walk-through for setting up your application, which is a great help for beginners or people who felt a little overwhelmed by their puny UI.
The Video tutorial section is certainly an added benefit. You can find how to set up your VPN overall platforms on your list with guided tutorials that are easy to follow and learn along the way.
Last but not least, is the Contact form section to gain support. You can enter your Email, select the type of assistance you require, subject of your message and type in your message or a bug report for technical assistance.
Hence, other than the FAQ, everything seems on the upside with Customer Support with Video Tutorials and Manuals certainly being the highlight.
Goes without saying that Security Privacy are the bedrock of any VPN service. The only real objective of a VPN is providing unmonitored and unrestricted access to sites for you and your business. Other than 256-bit encryption, here are some other security features:
Other than the aforementioned protocol options, Astrill also has a few more for added security and automated configurations. Cisco IPSec, IKev2/IPsec, L2TP/IPsec, SSTP OpenConnect allow more room for security switching.
The OpenVPN protocol has an Internet Kill Switch under privacy settings, a feature that allows for immediate termination of a connection if it wasn’t established properly. An improper connection can result in an intervention for third party hackers or the government. This feature prevents any breach of personal information that could result in data theft.
Astrill also offers Dedicated IP. Usually, when you use a VPN, you aren’t the only ones accessing a foreign server. You share it with other users as well. Locations marked with a star indicate that that IP is unique to you you only.
Multi-hop VPN is a feature that tunnels your network through 2 separate servers. For example, your network could be routed to a US Server while receiving any data back could be from another server in the UK. This masks your data efficiently and makes your connection more reliable.
Hence, everything looks tight on the security side of things. Important features like multiple security protocols an Internet Kill Switch make the service desirable.
Finally, we have laid down everything there is to know about Astrill. We covered everything from pricing down to security. We measured speed, usability security in brief.
There are a few setbacks like the UI is small and makes everything cramped. A little more space could’ve been better. The pricing is a little steep too but that’s not to say that you don’t get the promised features at hand.
So, in the end, is it worth it? To be honest: YES. You get premium features for the premium price. The features are great, security is solid and the customer support is stellar. The pros definitely dominate the cons when it comes to Astrill.
Hence, Astrill packs a big punch in a small package. What do you think? Is Astrill worth a shot? Did you find this review helpful or have anything you could add? Please comment down below let us know!