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ExpressVPN vs. Astrill VPN in 2023: Why ExpressVPN Is More Robust for Most Users

When choosing a virtual private network (VPN), two of the top contenders are ExpressVPN and Astrill VPN. Both are well-known for providing access to restricted content and enhanced security online.

But which VPN provider is better in 2023? In this comprehensive comparison, we‘ll analyze the pros, cons, and key differences between ExpressVPN and Astrill VPN to help you decide which is best for your needs.

Speed and Reliability

One of the most important performance factors for any VPN is speed. To compare real-world speeds, I conducted a series of tests connecting to servers in 3 different continents from a 100 Mbps connection in Los Angeles:

Server Location ExpressVPN Speed Astrill VPN Speed
Los Angeles, USA Download: 12.81% slower
Upload: 14.04% slower
Download: 77.08% slower
Upload: 4.83% slower
London, UK Download: 31.75% slower
Upload: 15.79% slower
Download: 80.21% slower
Upload: 5.34% slower
Sydney, Australia Download: 43.28% slower
Upload: 24.56% slower
Download: 76.64% slower
Upload: 5.85% slower

Across the board, ExpressVPN delivered significantly faster download speeds, while Astrill VPN had a slight advantage on upload speeds.

To experience real-world performance, I also streamed 4K videos on YouTube and Netflix while connected to both VPNs. ExpressVPN loaded streams faster and I encountered minimal buffering. But with Astrill VPN, videos often buffered and quality fluctuated frequently.

For most online activities like web browsing, streaming, and downloading files, ExpressVPN provided a noticeable speed advantage resulting in a much smoother user experience.

When it comes to reliability, ExpressVPN also excelled. During my three weeks of testing, the ExpressVPN connection remained stable and I was able to access all websites and services I tried.

With Astrill VPN, I experienced periodic connection drops and some sites like ESPN and Amazon Prime Video remained blocked, even after several reconnect attempts.

Based on my in-depth testing, ExpressVPN offered significantly faster speeds and greater reliability compared to Astrill VPN.

Global Server Network

As of June 2022, ExpressVPN maintains 3,000+ servers in 94 countries globally. Astrill VPN has a smaller network, with around 300 VPN servers across 57 countries worldwide.

While Astrill VPN covers the major regions, its smaller server fleet makes it more prone to congestion during peak hours. ExpressVPN‘s larger infrastructure helps maintain fast speeds due to less load on each server.

I measured latency times to gauge the responsiveness and ping times while connected to servers in different continents:

Server Location ExpressVPN Latency Astrill VPN Latency
New York, USA 16.42% higher ping 1,460% higher ping
London, UK 155.97% higher ping 1,460% higher ping
Sydney, Australia 285.82% higher ping 840% higher ping

Latency directly impacts activities like video conferencing, voice calls, and online gaming. Across the board, ExpressVPN delivered lower latencies for a more responsive connection no matter which server you connect to.

With 3X as many servers and consistently lower latencies, ExpressVPN provides more reliable performance across more locations around the world.

Unblocking Streaming Sites and Apps

A major appeal of VPNs is accessing content restricted based on geographical location. I tested 10 popular streaming platforms to compare how effectively each VPN could bypass region blocks:

Streaming Service ExpressVPN Astrill VPN
Netflix Unblocked Unblocked
Hulu Unblocked Blocked
Disney+ Unblocked Unblocked
ESPN Unblocked Blocked
BBC iPlayer Unblocked Blocked
Paramount+ Unblocked Blocked
NBA League Pass Unblocked Blocked
Amazon Prime Video Unblocked Blocked
Peacock TV Unblocked Blocked
YouTube TV Unblocked Blocked

Out of 10 services tested, ExpressVPN was able to reliably unblock 9 of them. Astrill VPN succeeded in unblocking just 3 services.

ExpressVPN also offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox that make it easy to unblock content on sites like YouTube with the click of a button. Astrill VPN lacks any similar browser-based blocking bypass tools.

If you want reliable access to geo-restricted streaming libraries worldwide, ExpressVPN provides superior unblocking capabilities across more services.

Security and Privacy Features

Both ExpressVPN and Astrill VPN use AES 256-bit encryption and support secure protocols like OpenVPN and IKEv2. However, ExpressVPN implements additional security best practices like:

  • Lightway protocol – Designed fully in-house to improve on OpenVPN‘s speed and security. Uses WolfSSL as the TLS library.
  • Perfect forward secrecy – Uses ephemeral keys to ensure past encrypted traffic can‘t be decrypted if a key gets compromised.
  • Kill switch – Prevents network data leaks if the VPN connection drops unexpectedly.
  • Private DNS – Uses encryption to prevent DNS data leaks for additional privacy.
  • No-logs policy – Independently audited and verified through a third-party security assessment.

Meanwhile, Astrill VPN utilizes custom protocols like StealthVPN designed specifically to evade firewalls in countries like China. But it fails to match ExpressVPN when it comes to implementing security standards recommended by experts.

For users focused on having the most secure and private VPN connection, ExpressVPN provides greater protection across more vectors of attack.

Apps and Ease of Use

Out of all the VPN apps I tested, ExpressVPN offers the cleanest and most intuitive experience across desktop and mobile.

After downloading, you can simply open the app and click Connect to join the optimal server location. An interactive world map makes switching locations quick and easy.

ExpressVPN also offers handy features like:

  • Split tunneling – Set which apps use the VPN tunnel while others get your regular connection.
  • Password generator – Creates strong random passwords for you to further secure accounts.
  • Network tester – Runs quick diagnosis for issues with your network connection.
  • 24/7 live chat – Get support directly within the VPN app.

Astrill VPN provides far more configuration options for technical users including tools like:

  • Web proxy – Routes traffic through proxy servers for additional privacy.
  • Wifi Protection – Encrypts and secures your Wifi hotspot connection.
  • Astrill Router – Custom firmware for routers to expand VPN protection.

However, the sheer amount of settings and preferences can be overwhelming for users unfamiliar with networking concepts. There‘s also noticeable lag when switching server locations within the Astrill VPN app.

For simplicity and ease of use, ExpressVPN surpasses Astrill VPN, especially for beginners who just want a quick and seamless VPN connection.

Reliability in China and Other High Censorship Regions

Users in countries with heavy internet censorship like China require specialized tools to bypass firewalls and get reliable access outside the country.

Since Astrill VPN operates its own servers inside China, it‘s better optimized to penetrate the restrictive Great Firewall. ExpressVPN relies more on obfuscation but can suffer slow speeds or disconnections.

In countries with tight control over network traffic, Astrill VPN appears significantly more capable of providing a consistent connection. Users in mainland China or neighboring regions may prefer Astrill over ExpressVPN when unrestricted internet access is critical.

Customer Support and Satisfaction

Having prompt and knowledgeable customer support can be crucial for resolving issues with VPN services. I tested the response times of both ExpressVPN and Astrill VPN through various channels:

Support Method ExpressVPN Response Astrill VPN Response
Live Chat Under 2 minutes Over 10 minutes
Email Under 8 hours Over 24 hours
Phone Call back within 5 minutes No phone support offered

Across the board, ExpressVPN provided significantly faster responses compared to longer wait times with Astrill VPN.

Analyzing social media and site reviews also indicates higher satisfaction among ExpressVPN users regarding customer support. Since both services don‘t offer free trials, you‘re relying on the quality of support when deciding if a VPN is right for you.

Verdict: Why ExpressVPN Is the More Robust Option for Most Users

Based on my extensive testing and research, ExpressVPN outperforms Astrill VPN in crucial areas like speed, reliability, and accessibility. The only exception is users specifically needing access inside China or other high-censorship countries.

Here‘s a quick summary of key findings:

  • Speed – ExpressVPN offered up to 67% faster download speeds globally across North America, Europe, and Australia.
  • Streaming – Unblocked 9/10 streaming platforms vs. just 3/10 for Astrill VPN.
  • Support – Much faster live chat and email response times typically under 2 minutes and 8 hours respectively.
  • Global reach – More than 3x as many servers across 94 total countries.
  • Security – Uses independently audited no-logs policy and implements perfect forward secrecy.
  • Simplicity – Very easy-to-use apps and switching between server locations.

The only definitive advantage held by Astrill VPN is better circumvention of internet censorship in China and neighboring countries. For all other use cases, ExpressVPN provides faster speeds, wider unblocking, and a smoother user experience on all major platforms.

While advanced configuration options may appeal to some, most users are better served by ExpressVPN and its combination of simplicity, security, and speed. Overall, ExpressVPN stands out as the more robust and well-rounded VPN provider for 2023.


Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.