ExpressVPN vs. Astrill VPN Face-to-Face Comparison Review
Onto the main agenda of the day, how does ExpressVPN compare to Astrill VPN? What are the similarities and differences? To help you make the best purchase decision, we have assessed the two bands' reputation, security and privacy features, speeds, and ability to unblock streaming sites, torrenting, and gaming. So without further ado, let's get into it.
The VPN industry is growing exponentially, attracting dozens of providers and hundreds of VPN brands. While there are reliable and trusted brands, some are not worth your time as they promise more than they can deliver. We took it upon ourselves to assess the two brands' backgrounds and what experts and users say. Our emphasis was on VPNs that have been in business for the longest time. The opinion of cybersecurity experts and users was also part of the checklist for assessing the brands' reputations.
ExpressVPN is a VPN brand established by ExpressVPN International Ltd., a company now owned by Kape Technologies. Its sister brands include CyberGhost, Private Internet Access, and Zenmate.
ExpressVPN is regarded as one of the best VPN brands today and has been praised by cybersecurity experts for its outstanding security and privacy, speed, and content access. The award-winning company has also been featured in top publications, including Vox, WSJ, BBC, and TechCrunch.
We scoured VPN forums and Reddit threads, and we are glad ExpressVPN has excellent reviews save for a few complaints here and there from a section of dissatisfied users. At the time of writing, ExpressVPN has a Trustpilot Trustscore of 4.7/5 after over 13,600 reviews.
Astrill is also a household name in the industry, having been established way back in 2009 by Astrill Systems Corp. The company has risen to become one of the most trusted VPNs today.
Astrill also has a fair amount of praise from cybersecurity experts and has been featured on BBC, Business Insider, The Guardian, and The New York Times, among other publications. We checked VPN forums, Reddit VPN threads, and consumer review websites, but unfortunately, it can’t match ExpressVPN.
There are several complaints regarding frequent bugs, billing issues, slow speeds, and failure to honor money-back guarantees. These issues have been coming up in the last few years. At the time of writing, AstrillVPN has a Trustpilot Trustscore of 1.8/5 after close to 50 reviews.
VPNs are highly specialized. Some have been engineered for compatibility with all devices, from PCs and mobile devices to routers, gaming consoles, and a wide range of streaming devices. But some are compatible with specific devices. The rule of thumb is to go for VPNs that are versatile enough to protect all your devices. Besides compatibility, checking the number of devices you can connect simultaneously is essential. This is because there are VPNs that allow for unlimited simultaneous connections while others limit the number of devices you can connect at a go under one license. Definitely, you want a VPN that allows for the most connections simultaneously.
ExpressVPN is a great deal in terms of compatibility. It works with multiple devices. There are apps for popular PC platforms, including Windows, Chromebook, Linux, and macOS. This is alongside browser extensions for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. ExpressVPN is also a mobile VPN for Android and iOS devices.
Besides PC and mobile protection, this VPN is compatible with routers, Smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Nvidia Shield, Chromecast, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch, just to mention a few.
The only problem with ExpressVPN is that it allows a maximum of 5 simultaneous connections. However, you can protect additional devices by linking them to an already-protected router.
Astrill VPN is also exceptional when it comes to compatibility, as it also works with multiple devices. There are apps for PCs running on Windows, macOS, and Linux, and mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Blackberry.
AstrillVPN also works with select routers. You can add streaming devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Smar TVs, Roku, Chromecast, and Apple TVs alongside consoles via the already connected router.
But like ExpressVPN, Astrill allows a maximum of 5 device connections simultaneously, but you can always add more devices to a protected router.
You also want a user-friendly VPN. But one thing to note is that usability varies. Some are user-friendly, with clean and intuitive interfaces and straightforward registration processes and setup. Similarly, we have VPNs that require complex setups and tedious registration processes. Whether you are an expert user or a beginner, usability matters. So, which of the two VPNs offers the best usability? How do they fair on our usability scale? Let's find out.
ExpressVPN is a user-friendly VPN that anyone can get started with in minutes. To get started, click the Get ExpressVPN button.
Next, it redirects to the plans page, where you need to select a preferred plan, enter an email address, select a preferred payment method, and checkout to complete the order. Then, create an account, download the client software, install it, launch it, and log in.
The user interface is intuitive, with pretty straightforward navigation and menu. On our usability scale, ExpressVPN scores a cool 4.5/5.
Astrill VPN is also a great option in terms of usability. It also has an easy registration process, and setup is equally easy. To get started, click the Sign Up Now button, redirecting to the plans page, where you need to select a preferred plan.
The next step is feeding your email address, adding a payment method, and completing the order. Now that you have a subscription, create an account, download the software, launch it and log in with your account credentials. It’s that simple.
The apps have intuitive interfaces with clear navigation and menu bars. On our usability scale, Astrill also scores 4.5/5.
Encryption is also vital when selecting the best VPN. It determines the level of security offered. For starters, encryption is all about how the VPN secures your data by scrambling it into an unreadable format such that without the keys, no other eys can decipher the data. There are different encryption technologies with AES 256-bit as the industry standard. This is the most advanced encryption technology today. Data secured using AES 256-bit keys can't be cracked. That said, settle for nothing less than a VPN with AES 256-bit encryption.
ExpressVPN is a robust VPN that deploys banking-grade Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit encryption to scramble your data into an unreadable format.
AES 256-bit is highly secure, so even the fastest computers can’t decrypt data encrypted using this technology.
It would take millions of years to break into systems secured by ExpressVPN. RSA-4096 keys and SHA-512 hashing for authentication further enhance security.
Astrill is also a secure VPN that encrypts data using AES 256-bit keys. You can also be sure that with Astrill VPN, all your data is secure as it is scrambled into a format that can’t be decrypted without the keys.
But one thing that should make you wary of your security is the fact that Astrill VPN has not disclosed the keys and authentication method it uses.
But this shouldn’t be a major concern as keys are regenerated at intervals.
Besides encryption, the VPN protocols, also known as the tunneling methods, is also a critical consideration. A VPN protocol is a set of rules determining how your traffic is routed via the VPN servers. Protocols are very specialized. Some are designed for compatibility with specific devices, while others are optimized for security or speed. When looking for the best VPN, it's recommended that you go for one that supports multiple VPN protocols, so you won't be limited when it comes to applications. In this segment, we have compared the two brands based on the VPN protocols they work with.
ExpressVPN is a versatile VPN that works with several protocols, 8 to be precise. These include PPTP, SSTP, L2TP, IKEv2, IPSec, OpenVPN, WireGuard, and Lightway. PPTP, SSTP, L2TP, IKEv2, and IPSec are less popular as they are designed to work with specific devices.
OpenVPN, on the other hand, is the industry standard and offers decent speeds and airtight security. If you want a balance between speeds and security, use WireGuard.
One of the striking features of ExpressVPN is the Lightway protocol, a proprietary tunneling method that guarantees fast speeds on UDP.
Astrill is also a good choice in terms of supported protocols though it can’t match ExpressVPN. It works with 4 protocols: OpenVPN, WireGuard, OpenWeb, and StealthVPN. OpenVPN is suitable for those looking for security over speed.
WireGuard, on the other hand, comes in handy when you want a balance between speed and security, while OpenWeb, an Astrill proprietary connectionless protocol, offers excellent security as it is based on TCP and encrypts data in multiple encryption and authentication layers.
Last is StealthVPN, also a proprietary protocol, and as the name suggests, it is an obfuscation protocol that bypasses censorship and firewalls. This is a feature that makes Astrill a good VPN for China.
Besides encryption and protocols, several other extras are essential when shopping for a VPN. There are basic security extras that are a must-have in any worthy VPN. These include IP/WebRTC/DNS Leak Protection, which ensures none of your DNS queries or leaks. Another extra is Split Tunneling which lets you create two connections; one via the VPN and another that doesn't route traffic via the VPN. A Network Kill Switch is also fundamental as it prevents your traffic from leaking when the VPN connection drops inadvertently. There are other advanced security extras to consider.
ExpressVPN packs all the basic security extras a VPN should have, plus some extras. There is IP/WebRTC/DNS Leak Protection that ensures all your DNS queries and IP don’t leak.
Our tests returned negative results, meaning ExpressVPN prevents your DNS queries and IP from leaking. A network kill switch also dops the internet connection when the VPN connection drops so your traffic won’t leak in the unlikely event the VPN connection drops.
Another feature is Split Tunneling which lets you decide traffic that should be routed via the VPN and traffic that can connect directly to the internet resource. Advanced features include Encrypted Private DNS, which further bolsters the security of your DNS queries, and a password manager that keeps your passwords safe from prying eyes.
Astrill VPN is also exceptional in terms of security extras. It comes with essential security extras plus a lot more. First is DNS/IP Leak Protection which ensures all your DNS queries and IP address remain intact. Another feature is Split Tunneling which allows users to set up two connections; one that routes traffic through the VPN and another that sends traffic directly to the internet resource.
There’s also a network kill switch, a failsafe mechanism that drops the internet connection when the VPN connection drops or is disrupted. When it comes to extras, Astrill has port forwarding, which lets users redirect connections from the local LAN to external devices.
There’s also Smart mode, a filter that excludes local websites from the VPN tunnel. It is an extension of Split Tunneling. Astrill also has a Muliti-Hop feature that chains your connection via multiple VPN servers for added security and Port Scan, which detects all open ports.
7. Privacy (Jurisdiction)
Where is the VPN provider located? As far as privacy is concerned, where the VPN on your wishlist is based is important. As you may be aware, some countries are not privacy friendly. They tend to spy on users' online activity and infringe on citizens' privacy. To make matters worse, others are members of global surveillance organizations such as the 5-Eyes, 9-Eyes, and 14 Eyes. VPNs in such countries should be shunned. Instead, find a VPN based in a privacy-friendly country that respects the privacy of companies and citizens. So, where are ExpressVPN and Astrill located? Are they baked in privacy-friendly jurisdictions?
ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs in terms of privacy, as it’s based in the British Virgin Islands, a privacy-friendly jurisdiction. The BVI is not part of any global surveillance organizations. Importantly, it doesn’t have any mandatory data retention laws.
Astrill VPN also has a good choice of location as it is based in Seychelles, a privacy-friendly jurisdiction not part of any global surveillance organizations. With Astrill VPN, you can be sure that the authorities can’t get your data.
8. Privacy (Logging Policy)
In as much as a VPN may be in a country not privacy-friendly, the logging policy can be the deal maker or breaker. Here, you should assess whether the company logs crucial data, for example, personally identifiable information, such as real and assigned IPs, device ID, browsing history, data, sessions, etc. For the record, don't be fooled by providers as they all claim to have a no logging policy, yet some collect and store information that can be used to track or profile you. Importantly, check whether the VPN's logging policy has been vetted just to be sure your data remains confidential.
Besides being in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction, ExpressVPN is a no-log VPN. The company doesn’t collect or store personally identifiable information such as your real and assigned IP address, device ID, bandwidth, timestamps, etc.
Notably, ExpressVPN deploys RAM-only servers that delete all data with every reboot. Moreso, ExpressVPN has an audited no-log policy.
Astrill VPN is also a no-log VPN that doesn’t keep logs of your online activity, that’s at least according to the marketing hype. However, the company does collect timestamps for server optimization.
Well, this should raise eyebrows but worry not, as your session data is anonymized. While the company has no scandals regarding logging, it has not been audited by any 3rd parties so far.
9. Server Network & Distribution
Another crucial aspect is the server network and distribution. The server network determines the reliability, speed, and performance of a VPN. In addition, it matters when it comes to content access. The best VPN should have a vast server network with top-of-the-line hardware for fast speeds and reliability. The servers should also be specialized for different applications such as streaming, torrenting, and other speed-intensive tasks. When it comes to distribution, the best VPN should have servers spread across the globe so you can access any content in any region or country. So, which VPN wins this round?
At the core of ExpressVPN’s infrastructure is a robust network of over 3000 highly specialized servers running on TrustedServer Technology. It deploys RAM-only servers for efficiency and, importantly, for privacy, as RAM-only servers wipe out all data with every reboot. The servers are spread in over 94 countries and 160 locations in the Americas, Europe, Oceania, Africa, and the Middle East. These servers have been optimized to offer fast speeds and reliability. If you are in for speeds, ExpressVPN is the best choice, as 70% of the servers have 10Gbps ports. The servers support torrenting and streaming and have a Smart Location feature that suggests the best speeds depending on your location.
Astrill VPN’s servers network is also robust. The company operates over 250 servers in 57 countries. The servers are in the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa. These are specialized servers offering fast speeds as they have 1Gbps ports, while select servers support up to 10Gbps. While not all servers are P2P and streaming-friendly, some have been optimized for safe torrenting and streaming. It’s also worth mentioning that AstrillVPN supports Onion over VPN servers, which enhances anonymity.
10. Streaming, Torrenting, and Gaming
VPNs are not just for online security and privacy. There are several other applications, content access, to be precise. There are streaming sites that geo-restrict content based on the viewers' location. To unblock such sites, you need a VPN, but not all VPNs can unblock streaming sites. You will also need a VPN if you are into torrenting and P2P sharing. VPNs for torrenting hide your P2P activity, so your ISP won't implement bandwidth throttling, slowing down your connection speeds. Besides, thy shield you from the risks of IP bans and copyright infringement. But just like streaming, not all VPNs guarantee safe torrenting. Last, we have VPNs for gaming which optimize gaming performance and prevent DDoS attacks and other threats. They can also enable gamers to access geo-restricted gaming content. So, how does ExpressVPN compare to Astrill in terms of content access?
ExpressVPN is a good VPN for streaming. It unblocked all the major streaming sites with geo-restricted content. In our tests, we watched several Netflix libraries, including Netflix UK, Canada, and Japan. It also unblocked the likes of Hulu, Apple TV, DAZN, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and YouTube.
When it comes to torrenting and P2P sharing, it’s also up to the tasks. We launched several torrenting sessions and got our files in record time without bandwidth throttling or IP bans.
Last on gaming, ExpressVPN is also exceptional. It protects gamers from DDoS attacks and enhances gaming performance courtesy of ultrafast speeds and low latency. You can also rely on ExpressVPN to access geo-restricted gaming content and discounts.
Astrill, on the other hand, can unblock streaming sites but is not as reliable as ExpressVPN. In our tests, it did unblock Netflix UK, Japan, and Canada. Unfortunately, it couldn’t unblock some streaming sites, including BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, and Disney Plus.
The VPN also supports torrenting, but the performance is dismal here. While we had the cover to protect ourselves from bandwidth throttling, the speeds were slow.
Lastly, Astrill VPN can protect gamers from DDoS attacks and other threats. You can also access geo-restricted gaming discounts and content, but the speeds are slow and the latency way too high, so you are not guaranteed smooth gaming.
Whether you are a pro user or a beginner, you definitely want a VPN provider with reliable customer support. Sometimes you will encounter problems and bugs that require the intervention of the VPN provider. When looking for the best VPN, go for one with multichannel support. The priority here should be 24/7 live chat, as you can get instant feedback any day, any time. Also, consider other channels such as telephone, email, and the availability of resources such as guides, tutorials, and FAQs.
ExpressVPN has a reliable customer support infrastructure available on different channels. The best option is 24/7, which offers instant feedback on technical and sales issues. You can also for the email ticketing system, but the problem is feedback takes time.
Besides the live chat and email ticketing system, ExpressVPN has detailed guides and tutorials alongside an FAQ section.
Astrill also has a reliable multichannel support system. The best option is the 24/7 live chat. Just like ExpressVPN, you get instant feedback on all technical or sales issues.
There is also a contact form, but just like email ticketing, getting response takes a while. Astrill VPN also has video tutorials, manuals, and an FAQ section.
12. Plans, Pricing, and Payment Methods
In this last bout of this ExpressVPN vs. Astrill VPN comparison review, we want to determine which of the two providers offers the best bang for the buck. Here, we have considered the available plans and their pricing. Also, find out whether there are free versions of the two software, free trials, and money-back guarantees. Last, find out the available payment methods.
ExpressVPN has no free version or free trial. Instead, the company offers users a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can claim a refund if you feel it’s not the best VPN for you.
When it comes to the paid plans, there are 3 options; a 1-month plan at $12.95 a month, a 6-month plan at $9.99 billed every 6 months, and an annual plan for $8.32 billed annually.
When it comes to payment options, there is a variety, including Mastercard, American Express, UnionPay, JCB, QIWI, iDEAL, GiroPay, and Discover. Interestingly, you can also pay with cryptos such as Bitcoin if you want to pay anonymously.
AstrillVPN has a free version but is only available on Android only and doesn’t give you access to the full features. Unfortunately, there is no free trial, and the company doesn’t have money-back guarantees, so you’d rather go for the short-term plan.
There are 3 paid plans; a 1-month plan for $30 a month billed monthly, a 1-year plan for $15 a month billed annually and a 2-year plan for $12.50 a month billed biannually.
As for payment methods, your options include Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express, Cirrus, PayPal, Monero, and bank transfer. Just like ExpressVPN, you can also make anonymous payments using Bitcoin.