Avast is a big name, well-known in the world of internet security. But how does its VPN service, Avast SecureLine, hold up under scrutiny?
We put Avast SecureLine VPN through rigorous testing and in this review we’ll tell you if it’s a VPN worthy of your time, as well as answering common questions like:
- Is Avast SecureLine safe?
- Does Avast VPN work with Netflix?
- Is Avast VPN good for torrenting?
- How much does Avast SecureLine cost?
- Does Avast SecureLine have any problems?
- Is Avast VPN any good?
But before we jump into our detailed review, here’s a quick look at Avast’s pros and cons:
Avast SecureLine VPN Pros & Cons
Avast SecureLine VPN Key Summary
|Top Download Speed||93Mbps|
|Logging Policy||Some User Logs|
|IP, DNS or WebRTC Leaks||No|
|Jurisdiction||Czech Republic (EU Member)|
|Works in China||No|
|Support||Email & Online Resources Only|
|Cheapest Price||$4.88/mo over 36 Months|
That’s just a few highlights of what’s to come.
We took apart Avast SecureLine to make sure we didn’t miss anything in our review, so keep reading to see if you’re thinking about purchasing a subscription for Avast.
Who is Avast SecureLine VPN?
About & Logging
Avast is a Czech cybersecurity company. It’s a big company, with 25 offices across the globe and thousands of employees.
Avast started out as an antivirus company just as computer viruses were being conceived, and has since established itself as a leading tech company.
With its headquarters in Prague, Avast is subject to intrusive EU data laws and intelligence agreements with other countries such as the US.
In December 2019, Avast’s antivirus browser extensions Avast Online Security and Avast-owned AVG Online Security were removed from the Firefox store by Mozilla for breaking its privacy rules. It was discovered to have been harvesting and sending data to Avast which was selling the data, quite proudly:
“Analyze it however you want: track what users searched for, how they interacted with a particular brand or product, and what they bought. Look into any category, country, or domain.”
The data included websites visited, search terms, videos watched, links clicked on, and per-device unique ID. This does not bode well for the company’s pro-privacy reputation, at all.
According to Adblock Plus founder Wladimir Palant, who has been monitoring Avast on this, other extensions – Avast SafePrice and AVG SafePrice – also have intrusive permissions and collect data.
Avast defends its data retention as necessary to detect fraudulent websites.
These extensions can still be used on Firefox browsers if already installed and are still easily available on Chrome, where the majority of people use it. We suggest you remove them immediately.
There are no confirmed details about whether Avast’s VPN performs the same data harvesting. Avast did remark that:
“Avast’s Jumpshot division can still collect your browser histories through Avast’s main antivirus applications on desktop and mobile.”
It doesn’t specify its VPN, SecureLine, but as one of the company’s applications, alongside its lack of scruples on the matter, it makes us wonder what would stop it.
We’re not sure that you can trust Avast to make your data private but, as of yet, we’ve not found any evidence that it’s abusing or selling it.
Avast VPN collects data.
This, it says, is for “technical purposes and to…prevent and detect fraud…or other illicit activity.”
The information Avast logs is as follows:
- Your username
- A timestamp when you connect and disconnect to the VPN
- Total amount of data transmitted during your session
This data is stored for 30 days on Avast’s secure servers and then deleted.
This is one of the more intrusive logging policies we’ve seen.
We know it’s possible to run a VPN service without requiring this much information, so those looking for the highest levels of privacy should look at no-logs VPNs that we’re reviewed, such as Private Internet Access.
It used to be worse: Avast did once collect full IP addresses, but it has recently amended that to collect just the anonymized subnetwork of your IP address. It’s still more than we like to see, but it’s an improvement in the right direction.
Mostly impressive speeds
Speed & Reliability
Avast VPN’s speed are mostly impressive.
Speed results from our physical location in London (100Mbps fibre optic connection) to a London test server.
Before using Avast SecureLine VPN:
When connected to Avast SecureLine VPN:
Download speed without Avast: 99Mbps
Download speed with Avast: 93Mbps
Our download speed loss when Avast SecureLine is running: 6%
We got very fast speeds on same-country connections, with only a 9% loss in download speed when using SecureLine VPN – that’s really good.
We also picked up consistently good speeds on distant connections, like when connecting to Australia and the USA, for example (we’re based in the UK).
Strangely, European connections were disappointing. German speeds were hit-and-miss, underwhelming in our testing.
More than that, Avast could improve on its ping and latency. We recorded higher-than-average ping scores, particularly on nearby connections.
Connecting to a UK server, where we would expect the lowest ping, clocked in at 14ms. That’s really high, especially for gamers who want to use a VPN – high ping means more lag.
We’ve reviewed VPN providers with much lower ping times, like Private Internet Access.
Still, it’s not the end of the world. Avast will perform most other tasks easily, including Full HD streaming and speedy downloads.
We put all of our VPN services through a scientific speed testing process to get the best indication of what speeds you can expect. These are the average speeds you can expect to pick up from these locations:
- USA: 46Mbps (download) & 19Mbps (upload)
- Germany: 69Mbps (download) & 45Mbps (upload)
- Singapore: 37Mbps (download) & 7Mbps (upload)
- Australia: 25Mbps (upload) & 4Mbps (upload)
Small server network with Euro-centric focus
Avast’s VPN server network is small. It has just 34 countries and 54 cities available.
That’s a below average amount.
The global coverage isn’t bad, with VPN server networks in Australia, Singapore and Taiwan. Asia is served rather well.
The problem is Avast only has one city for the entirety of Australia (Melbourne), one city for the entirety of South America (São Paulo, Brazil), one for the Middle East (Petah Tikva, Israel) and one city for Africa (Johannesburg, South Africa).
What does this mean? It means that if you’re living in or connecting to these areas, there’s likely to be a congestion of users and, therefore, slower VPN speeds.
Like most VPNs, coverage is condensed to Europe and North America, with plenty of city-level options in these countries. The US has 16 city-level servers, for example, covering both east and west coast.
In Europe, Germany, Russia, Spain, and the UK also have city-level servers.
There’s no information about the number of individual IP addresses that Avast maintains.
All servers offer a single shared IP address which can lead to server congestion and slower speeds as Avast VPN’s customer base increases.
Great for Netflix, less so for BBC iPlayer
Streaming & Torrenting
Avast has a dedicated server for streaming BBC iPlayer in the UK called ‘Wonderland’, but it actually didn’t work when we tested it. Nor did the London or Glasgow server.
In the case of unblocking Netflix, a number of Avast’s US servers are optimised for this purpose, including:
- New York
- Gotham City
We had great success with all of these servers. Content streamed quickly with little to no buffering required.
Avast helpfully marks the servers that are optimized for P2P. These include:
- Czech Republic
- New York
Eight of 54 connections isn’t a big number, but that’s because P2P activity is limited to Avast’s data centers for more secure connections.
So…P2P is permitted, but we don’t recommend it.
Windows users are especially advised against torrenting with Avast; its Windows app doesn’t come with a kill switch, meaning that if your VPN connection drops for any reason, your true IP address will be exposed.
Won’t beat censorship
Avast SecureLine won’t work in China – the litmus test for a VPN’s effectiveness at bypassing censorship.
But how about the other high-censorship countries?
Avast won’t be much good to you if you’re in Turkey, UAE, Iran or any other country that restricts internet freedom, as it lacks the necessary obfuscation tools to hide the use of OpenVPN protocol.
It’s important that you have a VPN that has a proven track record in thwarting the censors. We recommend using VyprVPN or ExpressVPN – our highest scoring VPN overall.
We also have definitive lists for the best VPNs that undercut censorship in these countries:
Covers popular devices, but no manual workarounds or router support
Platforms & Devices
Avast VPN provides custom VPN apps for:
- Microsoft Windows
It’s good to see custom apps for these popular platforms.
Unfortunately, there are no manual workarounds for other platforms such as Linux.
Nor are you able to configure your router to work with the SecureLine VPN software and automatically secure all internet-connected home devices.
You can use Avast on up to five devices simultaneously (when subscribing to the multi-platform pricing plan).
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
Perhaps you want to use a VPN while gaming, keeping your internet safe as you enjoy your downtime.
Bad news – Avast VPN is useless when it comes to gaming consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation.
This is also the case with streaming devices, because you cannot install Avast SecureLine on your router and there are no manual configurations.
You could connect your console or streaming device to one of your other devices already running the VPN, such as your laptop or smartphone.
However we don’t recommend doing this with Avast.
Avast VPN doesn’t come with any VPN extensions.
Most top-tier VPN providers at least provide a proxy extension for Chrome or Firefox – they make for lightweight web browsing experiences that protect your IP.
If that sounds like something you need then you should check out our review of Private Internet Access.
Good security, but no advanced features
Encryption & Security
DNS Leak Blocking
IPV6 Leak Blocking
Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.
Avast VPN is secure enough for beginners.
For those seeking the highest level of privacy, though, it’s not the best option out there.
The Windows and Android apps operate exclusively on OpenVPN, which is one of the most secure VPN protocols, and there’s no way you can connect to a VPN server using another (less secure) protocol.
MacOS and iOS apps use IPsec, which still offers a good level of security. Encryption is via AES-256, a top cipher used by the US federal government – so you can trust it to be robust.
So what’s the problem with Avast SecureLine?
Well, Avast VPN doesn’t provide any advanced privacy features at all. What you see is what you get.
That’s got positives, but plenty of negatives.
For example, there is no VPN kill switch on the Windows app (it’s available only on MacOS), meaning that if your VPN connection drops for any reason, your true IP address will be exposed.
Avast is a VPN service that will do just fine if you’re looking to protect yourself on public WiFi. But more privacy-focused users should look into VPN services with advanced settings, such as ProtonVPN – our review is a good place to start.
Nice apps, but would be improved by configurable settings
Ease of Use
How to Install & Set Up Avast SecureLine VPN
Avast VPN’s custom apps are modern and user friendly – they will appeal to VPN newbies, especially.
Take the main screen: it’s clear and simple, displaying a big on/off toggle along with your chosen server location, new IP address and duration of connection. It’s informative and easy to navigate.
The server list is well laid out, with the option to display all available countries or filter by continent.
It’s super easy to see which countries have city-level server choice, and which servers are optimized for torrenting or streaming. If you don’t need to connect to a specific country, you can just click/tap on ‘Optimal Location’ and the VPN app will connect you to the best nearest server.
The major downside of Avast VPN’s apps is the total lack of configurable settings. There’s no option to manually select a VPN protocol, and there is no kill switch for Windows. The only thing you can enable/disable is auto-protection wh
Frustrating experience with no live chat
|Email support via an online form||Yes|
Avast’s customer support really frustrated us at times.
It simply doesn’t measure up to the top-class service offered by the best VPN providers.
The resources on the website are limited to setup guides and basic FAQs and are incredibly difficult to navigate, but there is a search feature at least.
The FAQs will only cover basic troubleshooting issues, but for anything beyond that you’ll need to contact the support team and be prepared to be patient.
There is no live chat feature, and the fact that there’s no contact email address is also disappointing. Avast encourages customers to call them for support over the phone, but this seems a bit unnecessary if you just have a quick query.
The other contact option is via an online form and wait for a reply via email, but response times were unacceptably slow.
Confusing pricing plans, and not very cheap
Avast SecureLine VPN Coupon
Avast SecureLine VPN Pricing Plan
Avast SecureLine has a lot of different pricing plans mixed in amongst the many other products that Avast sells.
The most expensive price plan is the multi-platform one, which covers up to five simultaneous connections across all platforms – $79.99 per year.
It’s odd, as many VPNs offer this without feeling the need to include it as a pricing plan all on its own.
A single month is pricey at $8.99, but this drops to $5.33 per month if you opt for a 12-month subscription.
You can also sign up for two years, dropping to $4.99 per month. Or there’s three years at $4.88 per month.
In case that’s not enough, you can also buy the Avast VPN exclusively for your PC or Mac. This costs $59.99 every year for one device, or $99.99 for up to 10 devices.
If you’re looking to protect an Android or iOS device, then the VPN subscription will cost you either $2.99 per month, or $19.99 per year.
For a VPN that’s good for newbies, it’s strange that Avast have so many confusing plans. Perhaps simple is better – most VPNs usually change the price based on duration of subscription alone.
With Avast, take the time to consider what is best for you.
Avast VPN provides a strictly limited range of payment methods.
You can choose to pay from credit/debit card or PayPal. That’s it.
Many VPNs also include cryptocurrency or international methods of payment, such as AliPay. Some even allow cash payments.
The most privacy-conscious among us usually choose those options, and so they will likely turn away from Avast.
Avast also runs a seven-day free trial. This free trial is one of the best we’ve seen – no personal details are needed for you to use the service, and there are no restrictions, such as data caps or limited access to servers.
We used the free trial ourselves before upgrading to the paid version, and found little to no difference in speed and access whatsoever. We suggest you take advantage of Avast’s free trial.
You won’t be eligible for a refund if you exceed 10GB of bandwidth usage, or if you connect to the VPN more than 100 times during the 30-day window.
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