Gadget news
Keap review
2:02 pm | November 23, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Keap delivers an integrated sales and marketing CRM suite including contact management, email marketing, and payment capabilities. Your business needs one of the best CRM software solutions to manage its pipeline, so read our Keap review to find out if this is the right one for you.

Keap review: Snapshot

Keap is not your typical CRM software. Its combined set of features blurs the line between sales and marketing, with native payments, appointment booking, and email marketing functionality built on top of a core contact and pipeline management system.

Though its steep price and contact storage limits may deter some small businesses, Keap helps you convert leads through advanced marketing campaigns and save time through workflow automation and payment integration.

Its straightforward interface and generous support options make it highly accessible even for the most novice CRM users. With Keap, you can get started straight away and reap benefits from email campaigns and automated triggers without a huge learning curve.

Score: 4/5

Read on for our full review.

Keap competitors

Keap: Key features

You can add your contacts to Keap manually, through a CSV file, by scanning business cards with the mobile app, or by capturing leads from webforms. You can use Keap tags, such as “Nurture subscriber,” to segment contact lists, or create your own. On the Pro and Max plans, you can create unlimited sales and project pipelines by using existing Keap templates or designing your own.

With a UI similar to Mailchimp’s, Keap offers advanced email campaign building, sending, and tracking functionality. You can create unlimited templates on all plans and send bulk emails at no additional cost and with no contact limits. Customer engagement is recorded, including open and click rates, and is synced across contact lists. 

Native appointment management functionality saves you from setting up meetings in another program: you can create recurring appointments, accept bookings via shareable links, and automate meeting reminders directly from Keap. If you’re in the US or Canada, you can also make and track calls.

Keap throws payment functionality into the mix, which isn’t usually native to CRM products such as Zoho CRM or HubSpot CRM. On Lite plans and above, you can track your invoices, send one-click quotes to clients, and receive one-time payments directly to your bank account. On Pro and Max, you can additionally set recurring payments and create checkout forms for your e-commerce website.

Finally, automation is an enticing Keap feature: triggers can be set based on contact tags, email engagement, and pipeline stages, among others, so you can reduce your team’s manual work. For example, you can automate a welcome email when a new lead is captured on a webform. 

The sales reporting function, available on Pro and Max plans, includes not just internal company data, such as closed deals and email engagement, but also comparative industry data. The main shortcoming is that you can’t build your own reports from scratch, which is a common feature among competitors including Zoho CRM, Hubspot CRM, and Insightly.

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Keap review

Keap’s home screen summarizes sales figures, campaign stats, and upcoming team tasks (Image credit: Keap)
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Keap review

It’s easy to add, manage, and prioritize contacts on Keap’s CRM (Image credit: Keap)
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Keap review

Setting trigger-based workflow automation is available on all Keap plans (Image credit: Keap)
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Keap review

You can integrate with your email client and manage appointments without leaving Keap (Image credit: Keap)
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Keap review

Sales reporting and analytics are available on Keap’s Pro and Max plans (Image credit: Keap)

Keap: What’s new?

Keap has integrated the formerly known Infusionsoft software into its Max plan, aimed at established businesses. Max includes advanced features such as lead scoring, one-click cross-selling, customizable analytics, and real-time updates and automations from Shopify sales. 

E-commerce integrations have been upgraded on Pro as well, with online check-out forms being customizable and synced across your CRM data. The Lite and Pro plans have additionally seen improvements in mobile marketing: for instance, you can broadcast and automate text messages to your contacts if based in the US and Canada.

Keap: Pricing

Keap charges for its three plans on a monthly basis. Although it has no annual billing option, it does drop 30% off the initial five months, with regular prices billed thereafter. Keap monthly pricing increases with the number of contacts stored, and each additional user is billed at a flat $30 each. Starting with $56 a month for 500 contacts on the Lite plan, Keap plans can go as high as $350 a month for 25,000 contacts on the Max plan.

Users can also work with a professional Keap coach to develop a personalized sales and marketing playbook for a one-off fee of $499.

*limited functionality

Testing Keap

Below, we test how well Keap’s main features perform and how quickly you can start to use it with a small to midsize team. Our tests help conclude whether you can expect to increase your team’s productivity and pipeline effectiveness.

How easy to use is Keap?

Keap’s UI is impressively intuitive. Though chatbot tips and in-app tutorials are provided on first use, an inexperienced user could easily get by without them. With a larger-than-average font size, plenty of white space, and observable action buttons, doing the CRM basics - managing contacts, visualizing pipelines, and appointing tasks - is seamless.

When starting off, you’re prompted to add your first contacts, either manually or by importing from a spreadsheet or alternative contact lists such as Google, Mailchimp, or Quickbooks. This would be a quick process necessitating only a few clicks, if not for a spam-deterrent question asking if the contacts are expecting emails from your business. If the answer is no, Keap won’t allow you to email them. 

Some automations can be set without leaving the Contacts tab, such as adding contacts to a list when an email has been opened. Conveniently, real-time information about ongoing conversations, appointments, and tasks is available in the contact’s profile summary. 

Overall, Keap’s interface is easy to get used to, but there are some less intuitive features, such as placing the Save button at the top of forms and not at the bottom.

Screenshot from Automations tab in Keap

You can choose Keap’s ready-made workflow automations or create your own (Image credit: Keap)

Get up and running with Keap

On sign-up, a quick but mandatory questionnaire registers your top CRM priorities using straightforward statements such as “I want to quickly follow up with new leads.” It also integrates with email and calendar services such as Google or Microsoft. This saves time doing vital integrations later on and tailors your in-app recommendations.

The home dashboard provides a big-picture view of your sales figures, upcoming meetings, and email campaign stats, with a short two-click journey to create a new contact, email, task, or appointment. 

Setting up a pipeline takes only a few minutes: you can either choose Keap’s template or customize your own. A drag-and-drop Kanban board makes it easy to move deals throughout sales stages, and pipeline analytics are just one click away, allowing you to identify bottlenecks across pipelines and appraise individual rep performance.

Screenshot of customizing a sales pipeline in Keap

You can choose Keap’s ready-made workflow automations or create your own (Image credit: Keap)

How advanced are Keap’s email campaigns?

Keap’s bulk emails are sent from the Broadcasts tab and its email builder felt intuitive and glitch-free in our testing. Pop-ups offer useful suggestions - including adding name fields in subject lines - while industry-specific templates get you started with email structures and designs.

The template editor works by dragging and dropping content blocks, including text, image, video, and social media buttons. It is easy to make quick changes directly in the email design, such as undoing, deleting, or adding an element. Switching from desktop to mobile preview is just a click away at any point. This is an important feature as a large proportion of emails are opened on mobile devices.

Before sending to specified recipient lists, Keap asks for details such as your business address, to comply with marketing regulations. While this is a welcome feature, the pop-up could appear prior to editing for a more frictionless experience. In our test, the email broadcast reached the recipient within a minute or so, after choosing “immediate” sending.

Screenshot of Keap’s email template editor

Email templates are easily customized with drag-and-drop elements (Image credit: Keap)

Alternatives to Keap

Like Keap, competitors Zoho CRM and HubSpot CRM are suitable for small to midsize businesses that require an integrated sales and marketing suite. A shared feature for all three products is the ability to send and track bulk emails, although Zoho CRM lacks advanced features provided by the other two, including newsletter templates, drag-and-drop functionality, and A/B testing.

Keap outperforms Zoho CRM and HubSpot CRM in user-friendly design: contact lists, appointments, and pipelines look less cluttered, and automations are created with fewer clicks. Keap also features payment and quote management, which is rare across competitor products. That said, reporting and pipeline management, which Zoho CRM and HubSpot CRM offer on their free plans, are not available on the Keap starter plan.

For more information, read our Zoho CRM review and HubSpot CRM review.

Keap: Final verdict

Keap’s above-average price tag is justified through a seamlessly integrated sales and marketing engine. Its price includes unlimited emails and templates, which can be sent to all contacts in your database. Real-time payment integrations with ecommerce platforms such as Shopify are augmented by automatic quote-to-invoice conversions as leads become clients. 

One of Keap’s biggest selling points is how easy it is to set up and use. With clear user journeys, pop-up tips, and an action-oriented interface, you can add contacts and appointments, and send email campaigns in no time. Though you can do advanced tracking and A/B testing for email campaigns, sales reporting and analytics are reserved for Pro and Max plans. But even then, it’s not as customizable as reporting offered by competitors like HubSpot CRM or Zoho CRM. 

Keap’s workflow automation effectiveness can’t be understated. Available across all plans, it can replace manual tasks with triggers from sales stages, contact details, email engagement, payments, and more. 

While clearly on the pricey side, Keap has a compelling set of tools for small teams who are ready to ride their next wave of growth.

Further reading

For more background information, read our feature on what CRM software is. Our best CRM software buying guide includes more alternatives to Keap, and you can also check out our best free CRM software and best CRM for small business top picks.

Sonos Arc review
11:45 pm | November 22, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

The Sonos Arc is the company's biggest and beefiest soundbar even now, a few years on from its release. While we’re not sure if the device gets its name from the HDMI interface it uses, the curved sound it pitches or the fact that it is perhaps, metaphorically, a vessel delivering impressive surround sound to the modern minimalist home – but whichever the case, this bar is built to deliver big sound without taking over the room. 

The Sonos Arc can deliver the best quality Dolby lossless audio found on cutting edge Blu-ray disks, and can provide the 3D soundscape of Dolby Atmos object tracks from discs and streaming movies. This means that it can bounce certain sounds off the walls around you so they feel like they’re coming at you from all angles. Interestingly, this is what the Sonos Era 100 & 300 are rumored to do – the upcoming Sonos speakers that could blow the competition out of the water. 

the sonos arc soundbar on a tv stand

(Image credit: Future)

While all this might sound complicated, the Sonos Arc setup couldn’t be simpler, involving just a couple of steps on the smartphone app. The minimalist cable connections and all-in-one system construction add to this no-fuss feeling and streamlined aesthetic. If you’ve got a media room with four walls and a roof then this is absolutely one of the best soundbars around. 

There are some caveats for those with expansive TV rooms – or smaller rooms that might be able to get away with using the smaller and more affordable Sonos Beam (Gen 2) instead. It's also important to note that it only has one HDMI port – it doesn't have a 'passthrough' port, like most soundbars do these days, so you lose the use of the port it's connected to.

But all up, the Arc is a pretty amazing bit of kit that can mimic impressive 3D sound from a sleek and self-contained unit, making it the best Dolby Atmos soundbar around if you want one without a separate subwoofer or speakers. Though being Sonos, you could add those later, of course…

a closeup of the Sonos Arc soundbar

The Sonos Arc soundbar was subject to a price increase. (Image credit: Future)

Sonos Arc: price and availability

  • Released in June 2020
  • Official price: $899 / £899 / AU$1,499

The Sonos Arc soundbar launched globally on June 10, 2020 and cost $799 / £799 / AU$1,399 as a standalone unit. However, after Sonos announced a nearly product-wide price hike, it now costs $899 / £899 / AU$1,499.

While this Atmos-enabled speaker is perfectly capable on its own, you can also add the Sonos Sub (Gen 3) for $749 / £749 / AU$1099 for huge bass upgrage, or a Sonos Sub Mini ($429 / £429 / AU$699) for a smaller bass boost. You can also add a pair of Sonos One SL units for rear left and right surround sound, which will set you back $199 / £179 / AU$289 each. These speakers have also increased in price since their launch.

The Arc has been designed to sit on the tabletop beneath your TV, but you can also mount it below a screen using the Sonos Arc compatible wall mount ($79 / £79 / AU$99).

A lot has happened in soundbar world since the Sonos Arc's release, and it's price looks a little on the high side if you just want big home theater sound. You can get something like the Samsung HW-Q930B, with sub and rear speakers included, for around the same price as the Sonos Arc alone. However, not everyone wants all those boxes, even when they're wireless, and when it comes to all-in-one soundbars, the Arc is good value compared to competition such as the Sony HT-A7000.

a closeup of the Sonos Arc soundbar

The soundbar is the same width as a 55-inch TV. (Image credit: Future)

Sonos Arc: design and features

  • Width of a 55-inch TV 
  • Simple setup
  • Taller than most soundbars

There was a time where you wouldn’t consider anything other than a multi speaker array for the best quality surround sound, but Dolby Atmos is leading the charge to deliver 3D audio effects from a more streamlined system – and the Sonos Arc is a great example of this.

The self contained single unit has only two essential inputs: a power cable and a HDMI in, and while an Ethernet socket and a Digital Optical to HDMI adapter are available out of the box, it’s only recommended you use them if you absolutely have to. Sonos doesn’t even include a remote, suggesting you instead connect the soundbar to your TV via the Audio Return Channel (ARC) and just use your TV remote (or control it through the new Sonos S2 smartphone app). 

Key specs

Speakers: 5.0.2, 11 Class-D amplifiers, 8 woofers, 3 tweeters  Dimensions: 45 x 3.4 x 4.5 inches (1141.7 x 87 x 115.7mm), 13.78 lbs (6.25 kg )
Finish: Matte Black or White
Connections: HDMI input (ARC), optical digital audio to HDMI converter, Bluetooth, Ethernet port, 802.11b,g Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2, IR receiver
App: Android (no Trueplay), iOS
Subwoofer included: No 

Even the color choices are simple with the Arc, being available in just back or white. And while you can of course pair the Sonos Arc soundbar with the Sonos Sub or a pair of One SL speakers for deeper bass and true surround sound, it’s been created to be an excellent audio solution on its own, which cuts down on overall clutter.

Since the Arc is intended to bounce audio off the roof and walls of your room to create a 3D soundscape, it’s wrapped on the top, front, and either end by metal, hole-punch speaker grilles that cover the various orientations of the Atmos driver array.

a closeup of the Sonos arc soundbar

The Arc is intended to bounce audio off the roof and walls of your room. (Image credit: Future)

The soundbar sits a little higher than most at 3.4-inches (8.7cm), and this can be a problem with TVs that sit very low on their stands. But the built in IR repeater means it won’t block your remote connection, and this extra headroom gives a little more space to the upward firing Atmos drivers. At 45-inches (114.17cm) wide it’ll line up roughly with the edges of the average 55-inch TV, and its scale makes it suitable for anything up to 85 inches.

There is a simple status LED light that self-adjusts brightness according to ambient light and the subtle capacitive play/pause, volume and mute buttons help it blend into the background. 

There’s two rear reinforced holes to wall mount the 13.78 lb (6.25 kg) unit for a forward facing mounting setup, but naturally the bass response is a little more concentrated when it can reflect off a tabletop surface. 

While there is a Digital Optical converter included with the Arc, Atmos can only be carried over HDMI so by connecting it you’ll be sacrificing top quality sound. Dolby Atmos still isn't ubiquitous in terms of availability so making sure you have all the right bits can be a bit of a process. To see if your other current components are Atmos-ready check out our Dolby Atmos explainer

a closeup of the Sonos Arc

The setup process is designed to be as simple as possible, all done through the Sonos S2 smartphone app. (Image credit: Future)

Much like everything else with the Arc, the setup process is designed to be as simple as possible, all done through the new Sonos S2 smartphone app. After the initial plug in, you’re asked to download the app from the App store or Google Play Store (if you don’t already have it). 

Then, you'll need to follow a couple of prompts to connect the TV to Wi-Fi, any audio streaming or internet radio services you may already be signed up to, and your choice of Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Other than this there’s not much else to the setup, it’s a relatively painless process (especially if you already have a Sonos account). 

There is one last task you’ll want to perform before firing up your favorite movies, however: Trueplay Tuning. Trueplay is Sonos’ tool that analyzes the shape of a room in order to best balance the sound output. It can detect how the sound reflects, and tweak its audio to make everything sound as good as possible.

It makes a marked difference to detail overall, and to the clarity and precision of Dolby Atmos positional effects.

the sonos arc on a tv stand

Trueplay is Sonos’ proprietary adaptive soundscape tool which analyzes the shape of a room in order to best balance the sound output for everyone in it. (Image credit: Future)

There is one pretty considerable hitch, however: Trueplay is only compatible with iOS devices. This is a big inconvenience for non-Apple users and Sonos says that the diversity in Android hardware means it isn’t planning on developing it anytime soon. 

Fortunately, you can borrow an iOS device to run the calibration in the soundbar’s final location and it’ll remain true as long as you keep things in vaguely the same place. It’s an inconvenience, but on balance it’s probably simpler than having to store a dedicated tuning microphone somewhere memorable after setup. 

the side speakers on the sonos arc soundbar

The Sonos Arc contains eight elliptical woofers combine to deliver a solid overall bass response. (Image credit: Future)

Sonos Arc: audio performance

  • Excellent for both music and movies
  • Great surround sound for a single bar
  • Best with the right-shaped room

The Sonos Arc’s audio capabilities are seriously great. Eight elliptical woofers combine to deliver a solid overall bass response and the tuning balances a nice amount of warmth through the mids with an impressive level of clarity. 

This precision is matched by the three silk dome tweeters that deliver particularly crisp highs with an impressive level of control. We were particularly taken by the unit's ability to deliver soundscapes that distinguished sound from individual instruments during particular arrangements without feeling disjointed. 

This type of spatial precision makes sense when you consider that the Sonos Arc was designed to make the most of Dolby Atmos, an audio codec which separates sounds into object based audio tracks, so particular sources can be quickly shifted between speakers and bounced around the room more easily. So unsurprisingly, the Arc is very capable once you’ve tuned it to the room and it’s able to bounce effects around you. 

a closeup of the sonos arc soundbar

The Sonos Arc offers an impressive level of clarity. (Image credit: Future)

It’s worth pointing out that because the system uses your room to actually get the sound around you there’s going to be some variation in the Arc’s ability to deliver surround sound. 

We tested it in a room with a 20 foot (6 meter) vaulted ceiling and a nib wall behind the sofa, which makes it essentially impossible to bounce audio around behind you. 

So while we were able to experience excellent height and left/right soundscape movement, we definitely didn’t get the same surround sound experience as a multi-speaker array. 

That said, the speaker’s audio positioning was good enough that in a boxier media room we’d expect you’d be able to get surprisingly close to multi-speaker surround sound using just the Arc soundbar.

We really didn’t feel any desperate need to add a Sub to the Arc soundbar, there was more than enough powerful bass to allow you to feel those on-screen explosions or beat drops when turned up loud. We even felt the night mode settings that lower the bass EQ would be a useful feature for those in apartments with thin walls.

However, we have tested the Sonos Sub Mini with all three Sonos soundbars, and it does add extra power to the mix, no question – it's just not essential.

Should I buy the Sonos Arc?

Sonos Arc

(Image credit: Future)

Buy the Arc if ...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Not convinced by our Sonos Arc review? We've picked three other soundbars you may want to consider below:

Bitdefender Premium VPN review
7:26 pm | November 11, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

With global connectivity and increased security, the importance of daily Internet access cannot be overstated. There is a growing need to secure one's internet access, which is why so many people are turning to the best VPNs, which protect your identity from online threats and hide your IP address from intruders and hackers. 

It’s here where Bitdefender Premium VPN sits. You may have heard of Bitdefender, one of the world's largest cybersecurity technology companies, and its VPN offering is a product powered by the impressive standalone VPN service Hotspot Shield.

As such, Bitdefender employs Hotspot Shield's Catapult Hydra protocol, which is one of the fastest VPN tunneling protocols available on the market. Available through Bitdefender’s official app, it includes core essentials, with P2P support and a VPN kill switch to protect you if the VPN connection drops. There’s also AES 256-bit key encryption to ensure complete online anonymity. Bitdefender VPN boasts 4,000 servers in 49 countries. 

  • You can try Bitdefender Premium VPN by clicking here

Bitdefender Premium VPN: Pricing & plans 

Bitdefender Premium VPN in action

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

Bitdefender Premium price starts at $6.99 per month. To save up to 40%, consider using the discounted annual subscription for the first year for $29.99, which works out at around $2.50 a month. There's also a 30-day money-back guarantee if the service doesn't work out for you. Payments can be made by MasterCard, PayPal, or bank transfer.

Alternatively, you can try the Bitdefender free VPN. However, this is only accessible if you have an active security package with the provider. On the free plan, daily traffic is capped at 200MB, with no ability to select a location, so it won't be of much use if you’re looking to access geo-restricted content online. Additionally, you can connect up to ten devices, including those running Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. 

Bitdefender Premium VPN: Privacy & encryption 

Bitdefender Premium VPN in action

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

Nearly every common VPN website claims that "No Loging" however there is frequently a privacy policy that either provides very little information about any specifics or indicates that the firm does, in fact, log some of your information. 

Bitdefender Premium VPN does not have complete control over its service logging policies because its software works by connecting to Hotspot Shield servers via the Hotspot Shield network. The company’s basic privacy statement explains what information is collected and how it is used: 

“We collect for this service only randomly generated or hashed user and device IDs, IP addresses, and randomly generated tokens to establish a VPN connection for the sole purpose of providing the VPN service. For this service, we use AnchorFree as a data processor who processes data on behalf of Bitdefender in accordance with Bitdefender's instructions and for the sole purpose of providing VPN services to users."

Bitdefender Premium VPN in action

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

When we checked the Hotspot Shield privacy policy for more information, we were reassured that there is no monitoring of your web traffic or browsing history. However, data such as your browser type, device settings, network information, and more are logged in. While this does not allow the company to see anything of what you're doing online, it is definitely more than you will find with the majority of the competition.

With support for the Advanced Encryption Standard, employing a 256-bit version of it, the privacy tool is impenetrable even to the most powerful modern computers and ensures complete online anonymity. The VPN also uses the superfast catapult hydra protocol so when you browse the internet your IP address is rerouted. Also, you won’t find any Domain Name System (DNS), Web Real-time Communication, or other leaks when using Bitdefender Premium VPN.

Bitdefender Premium VPN: Streaming  

Netflix menu showing popular shows

(Image credit: Netflix)

Bitdefender Premium VPN is sold mostly for the sake of encrypting your data and allowing you to anonymously browse the internet. But the website does claim that you can unlock media, videos, and messages from all over the world - it’s just a shame it doesn't.

In our tests, we found this is certainly no streaming VPN. In fact, it’s terrible for at it. It doesn't work with top sites like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime. On the other hand, we were able to access BBC iPlayer when we connected to the UK server. If you’re looking for the best VPNs for Netflix and the like, we recommend ExpressVPN, as connections are great, it features lightning-fast speeds, and it’s simple to use across all apps.

We noticed that popular torrent applications like BitTorrent and Vuze are compatible with all of its servers and the VPN allows P2P transmission, so you may have better luck using it as a VPN for torrenting

Bitdefender Premium VPN: Speed & experience 

Bitdefender Premium VPN in action

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

In our testing, we discovered that the download speed peaked at 54.65Mbps when Bitfinder’s VPN was turned off. 

When we turned it on, we found speeds decreased to 18.68mpbs, well below average. To be honest, since the release of WireGuard, Bitdefender VPN isn't as fast as providers like NordVPN, CyberGhost, and IPVanish that reach about 880Mbps. 

Bitdefender Premium VPN: Customer support 

Bitdefender Premium VPN in action

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

The Bitdefender support staff can be contacted via phone, live chat, email, and phone. It should be noted that this is the general support team for all of Bitdefender's products and services, not just Premium VPN. 

And that’s a concern. Getting support from the support team may be simple, but we’re not sure a company that sells antivirus software with a VPN on the side can provide the kind of support offered by specialist providers. 

Bitdefender Premium VPN: Apps 

Bitdefender Premium VPN in action

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

If you've ever used Bitdefender antivirus software, you're probably already aware of Linux's absence from it. Its VPN is the same - there is no Linux application. But there are programs for Windows and Mac, with mobile VPN apps for Android and iOS. 


The Windows interface for Bitdefender Premium VPN is clear and easy to use with useful settings such as the kill switch, which blocks internet traffic if the VPN connection drops. Although the location list lacks favorites or previously used servers for easier reconnection, it allows switching locations without disconnecting the current connection. Desktop notifications also let you know when you're protected and when you're not.

The UI is recognizable with its sizable blue Connect button, the name of the location you are currently selecting, and, if you click it, a list of more locations to choose from.There is a search box, but no cities are provided (just countries), and there are no server load figures or ping times to help you in choosing.

The UI of the macOS version remains the same, but features have been drastically reduced, and split tunneling and the most advanced auto-connect options are no longer available. It leaves you with a stripped-down version, but it still has the kill switch and it is still usable.

We were surprised to find a kill switch here - historically iOS apps have lacked the most features due to strict Apple policies that make make adding features a challenge. Bitdefender’s iOS VPN app looks and feels very similar to its desktop counterpart, so it's just as simple to use, but suffers from the same flaws: a basic location list, no cities, limited server information, and no favorites system to help reduce scrolling.

Although essentially identical to the iOS version, the Android version includes additional features that are unique to it. The mobile app can block local network traffic, by doing this, your phone becomes invisible to other Wi-Fi-connected devices, this might deter some attackers who are waiting in public hotspots. 

The fact that mobile apps work well for simple tasks may explain why users give them such high ratings. We believe, however, that they have a long way to go before they can compete with the best in the field.

Bitdefender Premium VPN: Alternatives 

Although Bitdefender is an excellent VPN service, it lacks some features provided by the market's leading VPN providers, such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost, and Surfshark. They do cost more, but provide plenty of tools, features, thousands of servers, and ultimately more bang for your buck. . 


Bitdefender Premium VPN in action

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

If you want something cheap, fast, and with a familiar name the Bitdefender Premium VPN is for you. But it’s worth noting that the extent of their logging is unclear, no VPN audit reports are published, and streaming isn't one of their strengths. 

While Bitdefender is an excellent antivirus provider, its VPN isn’t the same, falling short of the advanced features and smart design found in the market leaders. 

NordPass Review: Is it safe?
5:33 am | November 10, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

When the company behind the superb NordVPN brings out a password manager, it pays to take notice – you know there's going to be some strong security pedigree powering NordPass behind the scenes.

Indeed, the firm boasts its own encryption algorithms, a zero-knowledge architecture, multi-factor authentication, and more.

Beyond that, NordPass offers secure sharing, autofill for passwords, credit cards and login details, single-click saving, and the knowledge that more than 3,500 companies trust NordPass for password security.

We'll find out if NordPass lives up to the hype – or if it's too good to be true. If you'd like more information about the best business password managers, examine our verdict on the best choices.

NordPass: Plans and pricing

There is a free tier with NordPass, which isn't always a given with password managers. It gets you storage for an unlimited number of passwords which you can access from anywhere, but you’ll only be allowed one signed-in session at a time, so if you alternate between your phone and your computer, you’ll be kicked out each time you change device. It won't detect weak or reused passwords, and it won't scan the web for data breaches, which some competitor companies do even at this free level.

The Premium account turns all of those features on and costs $2.99 / £2.39 per month, for annual commitments. It also allows you to use trusted sharing, which grants access to trusted contacts in case of emergencies. 

The top personal tier is the Family plan, which starts at $5.99 / £4.79 per month. You'll get six accounts with this product alongside all of the features included with the Premium product. Both of these plans are also available with two-year commitments, which means you can save a bit more money if you’re willing to pay upfront.

It’s also worth mentioning that some countries, including major markets like Australia and Canada, will see pricing in USD$. Despite this, billing will still occur in local currencies.

NordPass's standard Business product starts costs $3.59 per user per month and can handle up to 250 users, so it's ideal for small and medium businesses. This time, it’s advertised in USD$ globally, but each country will pay in local currencies. You get all of the features we've mentioned before alongside a security dashboard, the option to deploy company-wide settings, and Google Workplace SSO. The business product also includes team management features, like company-wide settings deployment and real-time monitoring.

The conventional business product doesn’t come with a dedicated account manager or face-to-face onboarding. If you'd like those features, more SSO options, and user provisioning via Active Directory, you'll need the Enterprise product and you'll have to contact NordPass directly to get a quote.

In all cases, you may be able to get a bigger discount via the NordPass promo codes currently available. 

Unfortunately, Nord Security doesn’t offer bundles with its VPN service, NordVPN, which is in our eyes a missed opportunity because some other companies like Dashlane do.

Getting started with NordPass

(Image credit: NordPass)

NordPass: Setup

It's very easy to get started with NordPass. Download the app from the firm's website, create an account with a master password, and you're good to go. You're able to import passwords from any big-name browser and directly from a CSV file. Nordpass will also import your passwords from other password managers, including popular apps like LastPass, Remembear, and RoboForm. Indeed, ten different products are supported.

Like most of its competition, there are Windows, macOS, and Linux versions of the NordPass desktop client so you should be catered for whichever sort of user or business you are. There are iOS and Android mobile apps, too.

It also includes browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera, Safari, and Brave. The only real thing missing here is the Command Line options you'll encounter on techier software, like Bitwarden.

NordPass: Interface and performance

Everything about the NordPass interface is smooth and elegant, from the initial sign-up page to the apps you'll install as you get the software set up – it's actually one of the most polished experiences we've seen, and the same its true of other Nord Security products. Everything is built to be user-friendly and accessible, so it's a password manager that will suit users at all levels of technical know-how.

The software does a really good job of hiding itself away in the background and only popping up discreetly when needed, and we had no complaints in terms of getting our passwords synced across multiple devices (it only takes a second or two usually).

The helpful touches spread throughout were much appreciated. You can customize generated passwords by length or by turning off characters that can be misread as something else, for example). Following this theme, you can even streamline online shopping by letting NordPass input your credit card details and shipping info for a smoother checkout. It’s even possible to switch between different Nordpass accounts without compromising your security, so if you need to manage work and personal life separately, it’s easily done.

When it comes to managing your account, logging in and accessing your settings, passwords, and other stored information is very straightforward. We appreciate the clean interface that is well laid out, and easy to use.

Previously, we mentioned that it would be nice to be able to tag or otherwise sort different types of credentials, but this has now been addressed. Folders allow you to separate categories, for example social media, online shopping, and banking. 

There’s a separate area for payment details, but it would be a nice addition to see a dedicated area for IDs, such as driving licenses and passports. These are the sorts of documents that you don’t carry every day, but when booking a flight, you might unexpectedly need to call on them.

The app's extra features are just as easy to use. Look to the bottom-right of the app and you'll find a password generator, password health assessment module, and a data breach scanner, and they're all as straightforward as the app's main functions. 

NordPass password generator

(Image credit: NordPass)

NordPass: Passkeys

As more and more websites begin to add passkeys as a login option, password managers are beginning to commit to their adoption, but NordPass has actually already integrated passkey support, making it one of the first.

The desktop application, NordPass Web Vault, and Firefox and Chrome-based browser extensions are already compatible with passkeys, but Safari users will have to wait for a future release to be included. Mobile support is also coming as soon as software makers open up passkeys to third parties.

Passkeys are saved in a separate location from regular passwords, and chances are you’ll still have a vault full of passwords for a long time to come because the few websites that are adopting passkeys are just using them as secondary login methods.

Passkey login and passwordless authentication for accessing NordPass is also in the works, but details are limited at the moment.

NordPass: Security

As you would expect from a developer that also offers a VPN, NordPass has a tight security setup. For a start it deploys a zero-knowledge approach, with end-to-end encryption for your password backups and data syncing – that means not even the NordPass team can see the data that you've got saved.

The increasingly well-respected XChaCha20 encryption algorithm is used, which is also a favorite of companies like Google and Cloudflare: it goes up to 256-bit encryption and is seen (by some at least) as a more future-proof solution than the AES-256 encryption commonly used elsewhere.

Biometric security can be added where supported – FaceID or Touch ID on Apple hardware, Windows Hello on a Windows machine, or a fingerprint reader for other smartphones. Two-factor authentication is supported for your NordPass account and the accounts you're storing passwords for. You're also able to use OTP generators or USB sticks to activate multi-factor authentication for added security.

NordPass also operated a blog which it uses to publicize important security tips alongside product announcements. The most common passwords page is particularly revealing, and even some less obvious passwords are at risk of being guessed in a matter of seconds.

NordPass: Support

The customer support is fairly standard – you get round-the-clock email support, but there's no way to call directly. You can live chat to agents who work in the sales department, but they are unable to help with technical queries. 

The various online options are good though, including a very well laid out help center which should answer most basic questions.

NordPass: The competition

NordPass is one of the most prominent password managers around and, as such, it faces loads of strong competition. Apps like LastPass are good alternatives with similar feature sets and pricing structures, and you'd be well-served by either of those tools.

If you'd like something more affordable but admittedly more basic, a product like mSecure will get the job done – it doesn't have the business options or the high-end features of NordPass, but it ticks mainstream boxes and it's cheaper.

If you’re after the security associated with a company that’s also made a name for itself in the VPN world, then Dashlane or Proton Pass would be good alternatives.

NordPass: Final verdict

We're impressed with what we've seen of NordPass during our testing, and we think it's a great choice for individuals and small-to-mid-sized companies. It balances an aesthetically pleasing design with some useful features and advanced security protection, and it holds up well when you compare it against anything else on the market.

Pricing is competitive, and it's nice to see a free tier available. Negatively, it doesn't have more advanced tools like Wi-Fi syncing and Dark Web scanning, but that shouldn't put you off unless you're looking for a password manager with every possible feature.

We've featured the best password recovery software.

StrongVPN review
8:13 pm | November 9, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

StrongVPN began offering VPN services in 2005 and now has over 950 VPN servers spread across 30 countries and 59 cities, with a diverse mix of locations to help make up the difference. The VPN provider boasts two servers in Africa and none in countries with repressive internet policies like China and Russia. 

However, StrongVPN is based in the United States, which is one of the least privacy-friendly countries in the world. As an active member of the Five Eyes countries, if US authorities want user information from the company, they can obtain it with a warrant.

StrongVPN SugarSync Offer

StrongVPN gives users 250GB of cloud storage from SugarSync when they sign up (Image credit: StrongVPN)

Pricing & plans 

Although you can get a 30-day money-back guarantee, there’s no free trial and no free VPN version, so there’s no way to test the service without handing over your card details. Subscriptions to the service are billed monthly or annually. 

A one-month subscription costs $10.99 and includes 250GB of cloud storage, while a 12-month subscription costs $69.99. This includes the same amount of storage space, and additionally, you have the choice of connecting 12 devices at once.

StrongVPN accepts American Express, Mastercard, PayPal, Alipay, and Visa as their payment options. The absence of cryptocurrencies or other anonymous payment options is disappointing.

Privacy & encryption 

StrongVPN adheres to a strict code of privacy. It does not record information about your IP address, bandwidth usage, timestamps, or online activity. Your email address and payment information are the only pieces of personal information that the VPN requests when you create an account. 

The company makes an effort to assist by summarizing its privacy policy up front with the following points:

- A zero-logging VPN service that won’t track or store your data while connected

- The only personal information collected is used for account setup

- Personal information isn’t sold to third parties

Our main issue with StrongVPN's logging policy is that it lacks an external VPN audit, which would properly confirm the company's claim that no logs are kept.  

It is crucial to remember that StrongVPN is headquartered in the US, a country that is a part of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance (a group of countries that share surveillance data with each other). This could compromise your privacy because StrongVPN would be obligated to provide your information to the US government upon request. 

Theoretically, this shouldn't be a problem, because it doesn't keep any logs and won't have any information to turn over. But it’s no longer sufficient to state “we don’t do bad stuff”, so we would advise you to proceed with caution when using this VPN. Alternatively, switch to a VPN like ExpressVPN, which is transparent and has had their system publicly audited to prove their privacy credentials.


The StrongVPN website claims it's the “Best streaming VPN”, but we found otherwise when we tested it. 

We were unable to use any of StrongVPN's UK servers to access BBC iPlayer. In our tests with US Netflix, we encountered no problems and were able to use the VPN for Netflix streams - however, we were unable to unblock any other Netflix region. 

With no luck, we tested over 10 libraries. Disney+ was also available to watch, and Amazon Prime was also available. But, since all of StrongVPN's servers are suitable for P2P use, we have no complaints when it comes to using the VPN for torrenting

Netflix menu showing popular shows

StrongVPN claims to work with many streaming platforms, and it did the trick with Netflix (Image credit: Netflix)


While all VPNs will, in some way, slow down your connection, the best ones have a negligible effect that prevents lags or buffering. Furthermore, speed may vary depending on your location, connection, and internet provider. Fast connections are almost as important as a service's security and privacy. 

We put StrongVPN to the test by using two 1Gbps connections US and UK. Speeds in the US using OpenVPN were 230-240Mbps. In the US, IKEv2 speeds increased to 260-280Mbps.

We strongly advise using the latest WireGuard protocol if you want to maximize your speeds, as this makes StrongVPN fast, but not the fastest VPN on the market. We consistently received speeds of 270–300 Mbps in the US and 450–500 Mbps in the UK, depending on the test. 


You can contact the company's knowledgeable customer service representatives 24/7 via live chat, on the phone during the company’s office hours between 9am and 5pm CT (UTC -6), Monday through Friday, or by sending a thorough online request. You'll receive a reply by email in less than an hour.

For anyone interested in the company or the VPN industry in general, StrongVPN has a blog section. You can refer to the collection of articles on the help site if you run into any issues while installing and using the service. The support site is searchable by keyword and contains categories like setup instructions, technical support, billing assistance, FAQs. 

StrongVPN Windows Menu

This is the interface of StrongVPN's Windows client (Image credit: StrongVPN)


We set up StrongVPN on a Windows PC and an Android smartphone. The Windows app for StrongVPN can be downloaded from their website, and the Android app can be downloaded from Play Store. We found it was very easy to install both the desktop and mobile VPN apps, taking just a couple of clicks. The apps were also very simple to use and understand. 

The world map that greets you can be found on both the Windows and Android apps' user interfaces. Your actual location and two buttons one for the ‘Best Available’ location feature and the other for connecting to the server are immediately visible. 

If you choose the ‘Best Available’ option, the server closest to you will be chosen, but if you want to access other servers, you can do so by clicking the Connect button rather than ‘best available. For each native and non-native device that StrongVPN supports, there are also step-by-step connection guides with screenshots available on the company's website, so even if you're not too tech-savvy you'll be able to figure it out.

Alternatives to Strong VPN 


NordVPN offers a plethora of convenience, privacy, and security features. Your security is covered by ad blocking, DNS leak protection, strong encryption, and a VPN kill switch. It is also a very user-friendly service because it offers dedicated P2P servers and native apps for all popular platforms.

Read our full NordVPN review


ExpressVPN has excellent security and privacy procedures. For users' privacy, this configuration essentially ensures that no residual data (logs) can exist on the system's hard drives. All VPN servers boot from read-only disks and operate on volatile memory (RAM).

Read our full ExpressVPN review


With a user-friendly platform, CyberGhost is one of the best. with a wealth of practical VPN features. The software never causes your computer to run slowly, is easy to use, and is free. In addition, it provides extensive P2P and torrent functionality and gives you access to more than 1200 servers spread across more than 50 nations. Features of the software include web browsing, anonymous browsing, remote access, DNS leak protection, and more. Up to five devices can be used simultaneously under one account. As a result, you can defend your mobile devices and the computers in your home.

Read our full CyberGhost review 


Although not entirely up to the level of something like ExpressVPN, Strong VPN is still worth checking out. 

With apps and setup guides to make it work almost anywhere, the VPN excels at platform coverage. Even though WireGuard speeds are subpar and its apps aren't the best, many people will find it fast enough, and the service appears to be reasonably priced if you plan to use the included SugarSync cloud storage.

mSecure Review: Pros & Cons, Features, Ratings, Pricing and more
10:11 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Any password manager and security app that’s been around as long as mSecure is likely to have a good range of core features, and mSecure certainly delivers in that regard. It’s got AES-256 encryption, secure password generation, and seamless automatic logins.

There’s lots of competition when it comes to the best password manager, though, so mSecure needs to impress beyond those mainstream abilities if it’s going to convince people to part with their money.

On paper, mSecure goes the extra mile with flexible data templates, intelligent searching, and loads of organization features, but we'll see how well these play out in practice.

mSecure 3

mSecure's password generator allows you to create passwords made of random strings (Image credit: mSecure )

mSecure: Plans and pricing

There was once a free version of mSecure which had all the basic functionalities, plus some additional extras like Windows Hello login and customizable templates for data entry. This appears to have been dropped, now, but really, most users will have wanted to spend some cash to get access to the full functionalities.

The Essentials product costs $1.66 / £1.50 / AUD$2.50 per month if you pay annually, and it upgrades your app with syncing across cloud services, fingerprint login, browser extension support, and a more advanced security center for quick analysis of your passwords. With that product, you also get Apple Watch support alongside everything that was already included in the free product. This, and all the other plans, are available on a monthly rolling basis but you’ll pay a little bit more.

The Premium version of mSecure only costs $2.49 / £2.20 / AUD$3.25 per month, so it’s one of the more affordable options on the market. You get every feature included in the Essentials package alongside comprehensive sharing options, the option to attach files to your data entries, advanced customization options, and tags for easier searching.

Previously, there was no business-focused plan, but things have changed recently and mSecure has introduced a new Teams tier. Teams members get access to all the Premium features plus the ability to share data with the rest of the team and other mSecure users. The admin also gets free access to a Family account as a gift, and plans start at $19.99 per month when paid annually for 10 users.

mSecure 5

This is the user interface of mSecure's Windows desktop app (Image credit: mSecure )

mSecure: Setup

Getting started with mSecure is fast and easy. You just need to enter your email and a master password to launch the software for the first time.

From there, you can import records from a CSV file or restore a backup database made by mSecure on another device. Note, though, that mSecure can’t easily import records from another password manager without copying them into an unsecured CSV file first. Most other password managers can import straight from other password managers directly.

mSecure 4

mSecure can only import data from a CSV file or mSecure backup file (Image credit: mSecure )

mSecure: Interface and performance

To start, mSecure covers all the essentials you need from a password manager. There’s no limit on how many entries you can keep and the built-in categories enable you to store much more than passwords. All entries support custom fields and you can also separate entries into groups in lieu of simple tags.

The password generator included in mSecure works well, and you can take your pick from completely random characters or a series of human-readable words. You can further customize the passwords by toggling the length and enabling letters, numbers, and special characters. You can even set exclusions which can be handy if you’re using less common keyboard layouts. Additionally, mSecure is constantly refining its tools and listening to feedback, so its password generator is even stronger than before.

Also included as part of the plans is a one-time code generator, so you won’t need to use a separate authenticator app.

One of the things that’s unique about mSecure is its cross-device syncing. You can sync new data entries across all your devices using the mSecure Cloud, Dropbox, or your home Wi-Fi network. Alternatively, the software enables you to create encrypted backups of your database at any time, which can be ported across devices.

mSecure’s desktop and mobile apps recently underwent a full redesign, so they now sport a modern and sleek user interface. One of the best things mSecure added is the auto-downloading of logos when you create an account online. That makes it very easy to find the entry for a specific login, like Netflix or Amazon, when you’re scrolling through your database.

We also liked that mSecure has added flexibility to the data entry process. You can not only add custom fields to every individual record but also redesign the templates for entire data categories.

In terms of platform support, you’ll find apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, alongside browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox – albeit only on Mac. That platform support will cover most people, but it’s pretty weak compared to most other products. Many have desktop clients for Linux, while the majority support extensions in even more browsers, including more obscure options like Brave and Opera.

Despite the various consumer-facing plans, mSecure has not yet announced any plans to support passkeys despite some pressure from online communities. Many other popular password managers have either already started rollout out passkey support or are on the cusp of doing so, and with Android and iOS both making passkeys more widely available to third parties in 2023, it is hoped that more websites will start to support them.

This is unlikely to be of much relevance to businesses for some time as they wait to see how the passwordless login method pans out.

mSecure 6

mSecure also includes auto-lock and self-destruct settings (Image credit: mSecure )

mSecure: Security

mSecure uses AES 256-bit encryption to ensure that your data stays locked down, and this is a zero-knowledge service – so your master password is never stored anywhere within the mSecure app or on the company’s servers.

Beyond that, your data is kept secure with automatic locking with customizable inactivity time, self-destruct options, and automatic backup. You’ll also benefit from secure sharing, and biometric two-factor authentication on every platform adds another layer of protection.

There are plenty of security features missing here, though. You don’t get reporting and analysis in the same level of detail as you’ll find elsewhere – there’s no breach detection or dark web monitoring here, for instance. Many other apps go further in terms of management, deployment, and customization, especially for businesses and teams.

mSecure 7

You can find FAQs and other tips in mSecure's knowledgebase (Image credit: mSecure )

mSecure: Support

mSecure provides support by email only using an online ticket system through a support portal, with no direct email address provided. Don’t expect a same-day response, either.

Beyond that, mSecure does offer a comprehensive knowledge base and a forum with separate sections for different platforms and problems, so it’s easy to drill down and try and find the knowledge you need.

Overall, mSecure could do better by offering phone support or access to live support by chat - even an adequately trained chatbot could be helpful.

mSecure: The competition

If secure password sharing is important to you, it’s worth checking out LastPass. This popular password manager offers sharing with one other user for free. You can share passwords with an unlimited number of users for as little as $3 / £2.50 / AUD$4.50 per month. We also like that LastPass includes more comprehensive multi-factor authentication options. Proton Pass also has impressive security credentials and is totally free, though there is a Plus plan with a few extra features.

Bear in mind, though, that LastPass and virtually every other big-name alternative to mSecure will be more expensive than either of mSecure’s paid product tiers.

If you’re interested in the business plan, there are plenty of options to consider. Bitwarden is noteworthy for its option for self-hosting, and Zoho Vault is another popular option that forms part of the very wide range of Zoho-branded productivity tools.

mSecure: Final verdict

mSecure is a decent password manager that makes it easy to keep records across multiple devices. We appreciated the redesigned interface and the ability to fully customize data fields and category templates.

For individuals who aren’t tech-savvy and people who want to save a bit of cash, this is a very good option – it’s easy to use and affordable. However, its lack of browser extension support and high-end features mean you’ll get more power and security elsewhere. Another of its selling points - that it’s cheap - is becoming less unique with more companies offering similarly priced or even free plans.

We've also featured the best password recovery software.

Astrill VPN review
6:29 pm | November 4, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Astrill is a Liechtenstein-registered provider with more than a decade of experience in the VPN business.

The service network is smaller than most, with 300+ servers covering 113 cities across 57 countries. Astrill says these are faster than most, with 10Gbps network connections, but that's not so unusual these days. PureVPN even claims to have 20Gbps servers in 'several key locations.'

Platform coverage is a plus, with apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux and DD-WRT and Asus Merlin routers. It's good to see P2P is available on some, though not all locations, and there's Onion over VPN support for extra privacy.

Astrill has a protocol for every situation: WireGuard for speed, OpenVPN for versatility, the connectionless OpenWeb to protect browser traffic, and the company's own StealthVPN to get you connected in the most VPN-unfriendly countries like China. 

Astrill VPN Supported Platforms

Astrill supports a diverse range of platforms (Image credit: Astrill)

There are all kinds of low-level and more technical features to explore. Port forwarding support can speed up torrenting and allow secure access to your home network. Multi-hop VPN directs your traffic through an extra VPN location, making it even more difficult for snoopers to track you, and VPN sharing allows other devices on your network to use your Astrill connection.

The Astrill website boasts that the service allows you to 'connect unlimited devices', but that's not exactly true. Astrill allows you to set up the VPN on as many devices as you like, but you're only able to connect five of them simultaneously. That's probably enough for most users, but if you need more, AtlasVPN, IPVanish, Surfshark, Windscribe, and others have no limits on devices or connections.

Normally this is the point where we list all the major new features a VPN has added recently, but in Astrill's case, there's not a lot to say. The Android app saw an update a couple of months before this review, but Astrill's last iOS release was in 2019, and although the company released 19 desktop updates in 2020, there hasn't been another since. 

Even if the apps are 100% bug-free (and we'll bet they're not), we would expect occasional releases just to update WireGuard, OpenVPN and other components, and the fact Astrill isn't keeping up with basic maintenance is a concern.

A screenshot of Astrill's prices

Astrill is far from cheap compared to rival VPNs (Image credit: Astrill)

Astrill VPN pricing

Astrill is jaw-droppingly expensive at $30 billed monthly, or $15 a month if you take the annual option.

You'd expect the best possible service for that price, right? Think again. Astrill has an optional VIP add-on that delivers 'optimized speed and reduced latency for clients in Asia and gamers', 'prioritized traffic on all servers', and 'multi-hop VPN' (pass your traffic through two VPN servers). That's an extra $10 a month to get Astrill's top speeds, regardless of the length of your subscription, so adding it to the annual plan bumps up the price to $25 a month.

Putting that into perspective, pay Astrill $180 (or $300 with the VIP add-on) and it'll cover you for a year; pay Private Internet Access $79 and you're covered for three years, with three months thrown in for free.

Astrill does have a bonus in a limited free Android plan. You can only use it with one device per account and speeds are limited, but it might be worth a try.

We normally pay our test account fees with PayPal, but this wasn't possible at Astrill. However we tried to pay, the website kept telling us our attempt had failed. We don't know why and Astrill was the only provider out of the 20+ we tested in our last updates where PayPal payment attempts repeatedly failed.

Even though we couldn't pay using PayPal, Astrill has a lengthy list of alternative payment options, including card, Bitcoin, AliPay, WebMoney, Union Pay, and Web Money. 

If you're not confident Astrill is going to be worth the money – and let's be realistic, who would be? – you're able to try out the service for 7 days, no payment details required. Sounds good, but beware, there's no refund or money-back guarantee after that.

Astrill VPN Privacy Policy

Astrill keeps no logs on users and its privacy policy gives a clear picture of the information it stores (Image credit: Astrill)


Astrill's privacy policy is sensibly laid out, with clear headings and a refreshing lack of jargon making it easy to find (and understand) the details you need.

The document explains that Astrill logs the connection time, IP address, device type, and Astrill VPN application version, but these are all deleted once you disconnect.

Astrill says that they keep some general data about your last 20 sessions ('connection time, connection duration, country, device type, and Astrill client application version number') in order to "identify potential issues with VPN connection[s] and provide adequate support."

So, while they do keep some logs, the company explains that it doesn't keep IP addresses, so won't be able to tie these sessions to any internet action.

To see if a VPN is living up to its privacy promises, we check each providers' use of tracking technology. Astrill's website scored much better than most, with only a single tracker and no third-party cookies. Astrill's Android app also performed well, with Exodus finding it contained no trackers at all.

Good news on logging, then, but there is another issue here. The policy explains that when you sign up, the company doesn't just collect your email and name, but "depending on your payment method, we may require your phone number and address."

An image of Astrill's payment process

(Image credit: Astrill)

We confirmed this during the review when the website requested verification via our mobile phone before we could pay via Bitcoin. (Who needs anonymity anyway, right?)

Astrill does an above-average job with its privacy policy, then, giving us plenty of details and saying all the right things. Still, asking for extra personal details doesn't seem to sit well when dealing with privacy. Plus, as the company hasn't put itself through a privacy or security audit, there's no way to verify what it's really doing. You're left to take Astrill's promises on trust.

Astrill VPN Windows Locations

Astrill's Windows app takes some getting used to (Image credit: Astrill)


As we mentioned above, signing up for Astrill takes a little more work than usual. Sign up for the trial and you're asked to verify your phone number by entering a PIN sent via SMS. We paid by PayPal and were asked to enter our real-world address, too.

Downloads can be a challenge, too. Most providers allow you to download their desktop apps by clicking a link; Astril not only asked us to log in, but it also demanded we complete a CAPTCHA.

Life gets easier post-payment, fortunately. A web console pointed us to Astrill's downloads, we grabbed the Windows installer, and it set itself up within seconds.

The Windows client has a tiny interface, which initially seems just a little more than an On/Off button, the name of the current location, and a scrolling chart of recent network activity. However,  there's more to the app than you might think.

A simple location picker displays a list of servers, with a search box, a Recommended tab listing the servers Astrill thinks you're most likely to need, and a second tab to store your favorites. 

The server names and order might leave you confused. Scroll to the UK, for instance, and the list begins '*London 10G', '*London O1', 'London GT1' and '*London 1. On the face of it, it's hard to hazard a guess at which one is best and we assume most users will just pick one at random.

There are explanations, if you go looking, but they're not always obvious. The asterisk turns out to mean the server supports P2P, for instance. Fine when you know, but we suspect it's not something you're likely to guess. You'll need to spend some time learning the app and its nuances to get the best out of the software.

Astrill VPN iOS app

Astrill's iOS app is very basic (as is the Android software) (Image credit: Astrill)

Mobile apps

Astrill's mobile apps are far more basic than its Windows offering, but then they're a whole lot easier to use, too.

The iOS version has just a location list, a TCP/UDP protocol choice (that's OpenWeb and WireGuard) and a big On/Off button. That looks distinctly underpowered compared to the competition, although the app does have one welcome feature that's not included in the desktop software: a Recent tab on the location list makes it easier to find and reconnect to servers.

Astrill's Android app has a little more functionality – OpenWeb, StealthVPN and WireGuard support, for instance. An Application Filter is a split tunneling system which enables defining which apps use the VPN, and which use your regular connection. There are one or two protocol tweaks (UDP/TCP and port choices), and a Show Logs option to help troubleshoot connection issues.

It's a little better than the iOS app, but only a little, and there are downsides, too. Not only is the Location picker missing the iOS 'Recent' tab, it doesn't have a Favorites system, either; yet another annoying inconsistency between platforms.

Astrill VPN Protocols

OpenWeb only tunnels traffic from Astrill's listed popular browsers, which includes IE rather than Edge, oddly (Image credit: Astrill)


Astrill's protocol support gets off to a good start with WireGuard and OpenVPN. The latter defaults to AES-128-CBC, but that'll still defeat any attacker, and you can change it to AES-192 or AES-256 if you prefer. You can even disable encryption entirely, perhaps useful with something like streaming, where performance is a top priority and there are no security issues.

The company's own StealthVPN offers 'an additional encryption layer on top of OpenVPN', Astrill says, making it 'even more secure and hard to identify and block by firewalls.' It may help you get online in China and other VPN-unfriendly countries, although we didn't check this during this review.

OpenWeb 'is invented by Astrill, uses AES military grade encryption and offers much faster surfing and streaming speeds comparing to other VPN protocols', according to the firm's help pages.

By default, OpenWeb only tunnels traffic from Astrill's idea of popular web browsers, including Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, Google Chrome, Chromium.

That's right, Internet Explorer instead of Edge! You can add Edge and other apps to the list as necessary, but we're still left wondering what other outdated assumptions Astrill's apps might be using. 

Astrill VPN Kill Switch

Astrill VPN offers a decent kill switch, but it's not without weaknesses (Image credit: Astrill)

Kill switch

Astrill's Windows app has two kill switches, each designed to prevent you sending unprotected traffic if the VPN drops.

A system-wide option blocks your internet connection, which is secure and easy to set up, but is also a nuisance if the VPN drops regularly.

An app-level kill switch called App Guard is a little smarter. Specify the applications you'd like to protect – Chrome and Outlook, say – and if the VPN goes down, Astrill blocks traffic for those apps only. Everything else works as normal. That's less secure as you're assuming none of your other traffic is important, but it's also more convenient if the switch kicks in.

We tested both switches, trying various scenarios to see how reliable they were. The results were, well, mixed.

The system-wide kill switch protected us some of the time. When we killed its OpenVPN process, for instance, our internet was blocked and the app automatically reconnected. Simple.

When we moved to more extreme tests, though, the cracks began to appear. We forcibly closed the Astrill app while using WireGuard, the VPN dropped, but the kill switch didn't kick in. And when we tried the same with OpenVPN, the VPN stayed up, but the connection dropped when the app restarted, again without the kill switch activating.

Astrill's app doesn't raise notifications when it connects or disconnects, either. That's another concern, as if the VPN does drop for some reason, you won't realize unless you're looking at the app's dashboard.

These are tougher tests than are likely to occur in real life, and we think Astrill's kill switches will protect you most of the time. But they do have weaknesses, and don't match the best of the competition.

Astrill VPN Settings

Astrill allows you to tweak loads of VPN settings (Image credit: Astrill)


Astrill's app settings cover just about every tweak and option we'd expect, and a great deal that we really didn't.

The client doesn't just let you choose OpenVPN UDP or TCP settings, for instance. You're also able to define the encryption method (AES 128, 192, 256), the port, even the MTU setting. And you can configure the port and MTU values for Astrill's other protocols, too.

Capable split tunneling features allow you to decide which applications and sites will use the VPN, and which will use your regular connection. You could set up the system to protect your torrent client and the Netflix and BBC iPlayer sites, for instance, but leave other traffic connecting as usual.

Astrill's Privacy settings don't stop with its kill switch functionality. It also has DNS, IPv6 and WebRTC leak protection, and even bonus privacy options to delete regular and Flash cookies.

By default, Astrill connections use the company's own DNS servers. The client doesn't just allow you to manually specify an alternative, though – you can also choose popular services from a list (Google, OpenDNS, Cloudflare, Comodo, Level3, more), or decide not to change DNS at all.

There's plenty more, but we'll stop at Astrill's user interface options. By default, the interface stays on top of other applications, for instance. But if you don't like that, you can turn this off with a click, then define a hotkey to launch the app on demand.

Overall, Astrill VPN's Windows app offers more features and configuration options than just about anything else we've ever seen, and experienced users could spend a very long time happily exploring what's on offer here. But the sheer volume of low-level settings (and the technical language used just about everywhere) may intimidate less technical types.

Netflix menu showing popular shows

Astrill had no problems unblocking US Netflix (Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix and streaming

Astrill's apps don't have specialist locations for unblocking Netflix, Amazon, Disney Plus, or any other streaming platforms. That can make it more challenging to get into a particular site, as you might have to try several locations before you succeed if you don't give up.

That wasn't an issue with US Netflix, though, as Astrill successfully unblocked it with all three of our test locations.

There were mixed results elsewhere. Astrill performed well in the UK, unblocking Netflix, BBC iPlayer, ITV and, Channel 4. It couldn't get us into Netflix Australia, Canada, or Japan though, and failed with Australia's 10Play. It did manage to succeed in unblocking 9Now, so there's that.

Astrill might just about be acceptable for unblocking, depending on your needs, but if you need reliability we'd look elsewhere. ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Private Internet Access, ProtonVPN, PureVPN, and Surfshark all unblocked 100% of our test platforms in their last reviews. performance benchmark

We evaluate every VPN with an array of speed testing benchmarks (Image credit:


We weren't able to get Astrill to run in our regular speed testing environment, unfortunately. That's unusual, but as it's not a platform we'd expect Astrill to support (a cloud PC in a data center), we're not counting that as a black mark against the company.

Switching to a 5G modem capable of 300Mbps, we found Astrill delivered capable OpenVPN and WireGuard speeds of 200-275Mbps. That's perfectly adequate for browsing, streaming, and most other internet tasks, but if you have a faster connection, we expect you'll see even more.

Astrill VPN review: Final verdict

Astrill VPN has been a great traveler's choice for years, especially in China. But it's also hugely expensive, with a lengthy list of issues and problems. So, if getting online in China is what you need, there might be better options. If you don't need to bypass the firewalls of VPN-unfriendly countries, you can get far easier-to-use, faster, and more capable VPNs for a fraction of the price.