Good For British TV & German Netflix
Avast SecureLine accesses German Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. All other streaming services, including other Netflix libraries, remain blocked. Avast VPN is not a great solution for your streaming needs.
Avast Secure Line has a number of servers optimized for video streaming. It doesn’t specify which streaming sites they’re designed to unblock, but we tested them on all the major streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, DAZN, and more.
We discovered Avast SecureLine accesses Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and All 4. Here’s our findings in full:
The UK streaming server proved to be a quick and easy way to get around both BBC and Channel 4 geo-blocks. It didn’t access UK Netflix, though.
Amazon Prime Video worked on the US Miami server, but not the Gotham City, New York, or Seattle ones. Unfortunately, US Netflix remained inaccessible on all four of Avast’s US streaming servers.
None of the streaming-optimized servers worked with Disney+, either. This means that if you’re in the US you cannot access the European version of Disney Plus, which includes access to the Disney+ Star.
Both HBO Max and Hulu detected Avast VPN, too.
However, the Germany streaming server did work to access German Netflix. Local German TV shows can be streamed effortlessly.
When it comes to streaming Avast Secure Line is a mixed bag, but mostly disappointing. If you want to watch British TV on BBC iPlayer or Channel 4, then it’s worth it. Netflix Germany is another plus.
But it fails to unblock more streaming sites than it succeeds at. For any of the other major streaming services, Avast is not a good choice.
Very fast speeds
Speed & Reliability
Avast SecureLine’s speeds are fast and stable enough for any online activity, including HD streaming, large file sharing, and endless web browsing. Using the Mimic protocol, it’s actually one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested. But it's let down by a high ping score.
Here are our full local speed test results:
Local Speed Test results before using Avast SecureLine VPN:
- Download Speed: 96Mbps
- Upload Speed: 99Mbps
- Ping: 5ms
Local Speed Test results with Avast SecureLine VPN:
Download speed loss when Avast SecureLine VPN is running: 1%
For local speed test results, it doesn’t get better than this.
However, it’s not all positive: the upload speeds did drop considerably and the ping was unusually high for a same-country connection.
These results were recorded using Avast’s in-house protocol, Avast Mimic.
International Speed Test Results
We performed global speed tests on Avast Mimic protocol alongside the industry-standard OpenVPN so we can compare which is the best.
Here are the results for both:
Avast Mimic is consistently faster than OpenVPN. The difference can be minor on local speeds, but quite major for long-distance connections.
89Mbps download speeds connecting to the US is very good (only a 7% speed loss), as is 76Mbps on an Australia connection (a 21% speed loss).
Upload speeds don’t take as much of a hit as they do when using OpenVPN, too.
The downside is that Avast Mimic records exceptionally high ping times, which means there’s a greater chance of lag. Using Avast Mimic we recorded a UK ping time of 97ms, which is unusually high. Using OpenVPN we recorded 14ms, which is around the score we expect to see.
EXPERT TIP: We recommend using Avast Mimic protocol when connecting to a far-away country and OpenVPN if connecting locally. On MacOS, which doesn’t have OpenVPN, we recommend using Avast Mimic all the time.
Fast Torrents, but Not the Safest
Avast picks up fast torrenting speeds and comes with P2P-optimized servers. But because of SecureLine's intrusive logging policy torrenters should proceed with caution when using this VPN.
Avast lists eight servers that are optimized for P2P activity. These are:
- Czech Republic
- Frankfurt, Germany
- London, UK
- Miami, US
- New York, US
- Seattle, US
This is a fair amount.
And it picks up fast torrenting speeds. We recorded 9.3 MiB/s in our tests – which is very good.
There’s a kill switch, too, ensuring there aren’t accidental data leaks or exposures as you torrent.
But Avast’s company history gives us cause for concern. It’s shown that it’s quite prepared to hand over information, and it logs data.
There are no extra features for torrenters either, like SOCKS5 proxy or port forwarding.
We wish the logging policy was more watertight, but Avast is a fast and easy way to torrent.
Avast Logs Too Much Data
Logging Policy & Jurisdiction
Avast SecureLine logs more data than is acceptable. The company also has a history of sharing user information. Thankfully it doesn't record any sensitive details, like your IP address or browsing history. But it does retain information about connection timestamps and the amount of data transferred for up to 35 days.
Avast freely admits that:
“Generally speaking, we need some personal data particularly to provide you our products and services, optimize and improve our products and services, to send you direct marketing, or to comply with our legal obligations.”
We were pleased to see that Avast doesn’t store your original IP address, DNS queries, or browsing history. This is the most sensitive information that no VPN should keep.
But it does collect:
- Timestamps of connections.
- Amount of data transmitted.
- Connection attempts and connection errors.
- Auto-connect and uninstall events.
- Email, app version, internal identifier.
- Subscription activation code and renewal date.
Your connection data is stored on Avast’s servers for 35 days (recently increased from 30 days), and any client data (account information) is stored for up to two years. There’s no real justification for this practice.
This is an intrusive logging policy.
The problem is its content. We know VPNs can operate while knowing nothing about its users, so we’re not swayed by Avast’s explanations.
The fact that Avast is quite willing to part with your data to governmental authority is a serious cause for concern, too.
Avast has a privacy-unfriendly history
Avast RSO is a Czech cybersecurity company founded in 1988. It’s known for its antivirus software and has since become a leading tech company that sells various cybersecurity products. It also owns the VPNs HideMyAss and AVG.
In December 2019, Avast’s antivirus browser extensions were removed by Mozilla for breaking its privacy rules. Its antivirus extension had been harvesting and sending data back to Avast. This data included websites visited, search terms, videos watched, links clicked, and unique device IDs.
In January 2020, it was reported that personal data harvested by free Avast add-ons was being monetized and sold to tech companies like Google.
This practice has since been abandoned and it doesn’t apply to the VPN – as far as we know. But it doesn’t reflect well on Avast as a privacy company.
There’s no evidence that Avast SecureLine VPN is engaging in any nefarious logging practices, but a past of data-harvesting and data hand-overs will give privacy-conscious users cause for concern.
Based in Czechia, anti-privacy Europe
Avast is still headquartered in Prague. This means that Avast is subject to invasive EU data retention laws and intelligence agreements with privacy-unfriendly nations like the US.
Thanks to a transparency report, it has also admitted to providing data to law enforcement in response to legal requests. In 2017, Avast handed over information concerning 41 of its users – 31% of all legal requests that year.
Avast is only acting in accordance with the law, and its co-operation has since dropped to 0% for 2021 (that could be due to an exodus of trusting users, however). There’s now a warrant canary for warning, as well. But it shows that Avast has data to hand over in the first place, and that its legal jurisdiction is inappropriate for a VPN.
There’s no evidence that Avast SecureLine VPN is engaging in any nefarious logging practices, but a past of data-harvesting and data hand-overs will give privacy-conscious users cause for concern.
Secure Enough, but Not Advanced
Security & Features
Avast SecureLine does a basic job hiding your IP addresses and encrypting your data, with AES-256 encryption and leak-free browsing. But those seeking the highest levels of internet privacy should look at better, more advanced VPNs.
Avast uses an experimental protocol
Avast has an in-house proprietary protocol called Avast Mimic, which it describes as “experimental.” This doesn’t inspire much confidence; when it comes to VPNs, you want data protection to be reliable, not experimental.
When we asked Avast how Mimic works, we were told:
It is a new protocol that employs military grade security and can connect to the internet up to 4x faster. How does it work? It simply mimics/duplicates the connection to all websites you are visiting during your browsing session, providing fake information about who you are and where you’re coming from, making it impossible for anyone to identify you, track you or monitor you.
This is confusing, and it’s not obvious how safe Mimic is. The protocol certainly delivers fast speeds, but we’d like a clear and transparent explanation of how the protocol protects your data.
OpenVPN is available as an alternative protocol on Windows and Android, but not on MacOS, or iOS. We’d like to see it included across all apps, and WireGuard too.
You cannot change protocol on mobile devices (the default is OpenVPN). While the only alternative to Avast Mimic on Mac is the IPSec protocol. IPSec is not an unsafe protocol, but it’s not as powerful as OpenVPN or WireGuard, which are the leading industry-standard.
Safe Practices, but Too Basic
Avast SecureLine uses the best encryption cipher, AES-256, and it has a kill switch across all of its applications (this is off by default, so don’t forget to turn it on). This shows that it has a solid grasp of VPN security.
However, the VPN would benefit from advanced and customizable protection measures like a malware and ad blocker, DNS leak protection, double VPN (multi-hop), and Onion over VPN.
Avast is basic compared to many leading VPNs, which are moving to RAM-only servers, open source apps, and invisibility on LAN.
One neat feature is that Avast VPN allows you to use a free password leak detector, to check whether passwords associated with your email have been exposed by data leaks or hacks. All you have to do is insert an email.
Smart Mode is a useful split tunneling tool
Avast SecureLine has a feature called Smart Mode, which is essentially an automatic split tunneling feature that selects which websites and apps are encrypted through the VPN tunnel and which are not.
Avast says that its Smart Mode can “tell when you’re connecting to a sensitive site,” closing the VPN session after you leave. This is usually for banking websites and torrent sites. It also knows whether you’re using public WiFi.
You can also customize this feature, choosing which websites you want to encrypt or not. In this way it’s like a regular manual split tunneling tool.
Credit to Avast that this is available on Mac; it’s rare to find a functioning split tunneling feature on Apple devices. Even top VPNs like ExpressVPN and NordVPN don’t have one.
Security Tests: Is Avast Safe?
We used our leak test tool to test whether Avast SecureLine won’t accidentally expose your data. We recorded no leaks of any kind — Avast SecureLine is free of IPv4/IPv6, DNS, WebRTC, and geolocation leaks.
We also ran the Avast SecureLine software through a virus and malware scanner to ensure it’s safe to put onto your device.
The results showed that Avast is clean of any malicious content and is safe to install.
We inspected the Android app for unwarranted permissions or trackers, too. We discovered that it has quite a number of trackers and permissions.
This includes access to your exact location and the ability to find accounts on your device. Both of these are considered ‘dangerous’ according to Google’s protection levels. Trackers include Facebook Analytics and Google Firebase Analytics.
Considering this is supposed to be privacy technology, we think there should be very few trackers or permissions. For context, Astrill VPN and Hide.me have zero – which is the gold standard.
We’d like to see Avast respect the privacy of its users more by cutting down the number of Android permissions and trackers.
Avast SecureLine Works in China
Avast SecureLine is currently working to get around the Great Firewall of China. This is great, but we can't be certain how long this success will last. As it stands, Avast is a good anti-censorship VPN.
Does Avast work in China? Yes it does.
Considering Avast SecureLine has no anti-censorship tools to speak of, we were surprised to learn that it gets around the Great Firewall of China.
This isn’t speculation: we tested it from our own servers in Shanghai. Using Avast’s auto-connect option we established a secure connection to South Korea, fooling the Firewall.
How long this success will last in the absence of obfuscation is not clear. Also, if Avast becomes better-known as an anti-censorship VPN, it can alert the authorities and initiate a harsher crackdown.
The Avast website and all of its products are blocked in China. Because of that, you’ll have to download the VPN before going into the country, or while using another VPN that works within the country.
Avast will also work against censorship in countries like Russia and Turkey, which have less robust crackdown methods than China.
For China specifically, we still wouldn’t recommend Avast SecureLine over a VPN like Astrill. But if you’re already an Avast user, it’s useful to know it works within China.
A small server network
Avast SecureLine has 700 servers across 35 countries. It’s not a huge selection, and it focuses mostly on Europe and North America. But casual VPN users will be satisfied.
Avast SecureLine has 700 servers across 35 countries. It’s not a huge selection.
Compared to VPNs like Private Internet Access (29,643 servers across 78 countries) or NordVPN (5,208 across 60 countries), Avast is not close to competing.
But it should do the job for most, especially if you’re based in Europe or the US. There aren’t many servers to cover Asia, Africa, or the Middle East.
We’d like to see more city-level servers made available. You can currently select city servers in the following countries:
That’s not a lot, but at least it covers the largest countries like the US, Canada, and Russia.
A good way to avoid potential congestion would be for Avast to include server load information beside each server. This way the user can avoid servers with an unusually high usage at any given time.
Avast rents servers
But what type of servers does Avast use? When we asked for this information, Avast told us:
“We have our own VPN servers and we also rent servers in certain locations.”
It refused to disclose any more information than that for “security reasons.”
We don’t know which servers are owned by Avast and which are rented. It’s not uncommon to rent hardware as it allows VPNs further server reach.
But it also means that your data is handled by third-parties. For security reasons, some VPNs elect to invest in an entirely self-owned server network.
This isn’t an issue if the VPN is diligent when choosing who to work with. Some top VPNs have fallen victim to poor third-party server management, including NordVPN and Windscribe.
Not good value for money
Price & Value for Money
At $3.99 per month, Avast SecureLine isn’t an expensive VPN. But it’s far from being the cheapest. Top VPNs can be as cheap as $2.00. In terms of value for money, there are better VPNs out there.
Avast SecureLine costs $3.99 on its best price deal. This is paid as $95.76 every two years.
We’re pleased that Avast has simplified its pricing plans, which used to be based on device allowance and platform-specific requirements. It was far too confusing.
Now it does what most other VPNs do with a three-tier pricing scheme, which is:
US$8.99/moBilled $8.99 every month
US$4.99/moBilled $59.88 every 12 months
US$3.99/moBilled $96.76 every 2 years
All plans have 30-day money-back guarantee
All of these plans secure up to 10 devices at one time.
Payment & Refund Options
You can pay for Avast VPN with PayPal or debit card/credit card.
It would be good to see some privacy-friendly payment methods included, like cryptocurrency. Mullvad VPN even accepts cash payments.
Refund within 30-days & free trial
All of Avast SecureLine’s deals come with a 30-day money back guarantee.
However, you cannot claim this refund if you bought Avast SecureLine through a retail store, third-party reseller, or The App Store. If you bought SecureLine through the App Store you’re subject to Apple’s terms and conditions.
If you are within the 30-day period you have to give a reason why you want the refund, so it’s not strictly ‘no questions asked’ like most top VPNs. Luckily the refund is easy to find and ask for.
Avast has a genuine seven-day free VPN trial. It doesn’t require any personal details to sign up for, and there are no restrictions on data usage or access to servers.
This is great, and different to many other free trials that either impose data caps or restrict features.
Apps for the most popular devices only
Platforms & Devices
Avast SecureLine is available on Windows, Android, Mac, and iOS. It doesn’t cater to Linux users, or devices like Fire TV Stick or Smart TVs. The available apps are simple to install and you can use the VPN on up to 10 devices at once – which is a lot.
Avast Secure Line is available on the following devices:
Avast should build apps that appeal to Linux users, too, and those who use Fire TV Stick or Smart TVs.
Nor does it support router configuration. Instead, Avast Directs users to its partner VPN, HideMyAss. But this is no good if you’re talking to an existing Avast subscriber.
Gamers should look elsewhere due to Avast’s high ping score.
But extensions aren’t as secure as VPNs, so only use them for light browning and hiding your real IP address.
Under one subscription, you can use Avast VPN on up to 10 devices at the same time. This is a very generous amount. But some VPNs like Surfshark do allow an unlimited number of devices.
Avast Secure Line has browser extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
These are easily installed and extremely easy to use.
But these are proxies, not fully-encrypted VPNs. Remember to use the fully-featured VPN app if you want device-wide protection. Browser extensions only encrypt browser traffic.
Useful For Beginners
Ease of Use
Avast's apps are extremely simple to use. This is great for new VPN users. But we'd like to see a better integration of advanced features and the apps streamlined.
How to Install & Set Up Avast SecureLine VPN
Avast SecureLine is very simple to understand and use. The apps consist of very little. There is a home screen with a large connect button and a limited selection of settings and advanced options.
The apps are almost completely the same across devices, which is quite rare. Avast SecureLine is certainly user-friendly and so a viable option for VPN newcomers.
Desktop Apps: Windows & MacOS
Avast SecureLine is identical on Windows and MacOS. Both have easy-to-navigate interfaces. Avast’s Smart Mode is available on both, which is noteworthy as split tunneling is rarely available on Mac.
However, Windows has OpenVPN protocol whereas Mac does not. Mac is automatically set to IPSec and you can change to Avast Mimic only. This is done by using the burger menu and heading to Preferences > Experimental.
Mobile Apps: Android & iOS
Avast SeucreLine’s Android app comes with a kill switch, split tunneling, and an auto connect feature. It uses the OpenVPN protocol as default.
You can toggle off an automatic sharing of app-usage data that goes to third parties. It shouldn’t be there in the first place, really. At least, it should be an opt-in option.
The iOS app, on the other hand, barely comes with anything. None of its servers are listed as P2P servers and it has no customizable settings at all – not even an auto-connect feature.
There’s a Help FAQ within both apps, but it’s pretty basic. You’ll also find a link to the Avast Forum and a contact support option.
The mobile apps have the same number of servers as the desktop, but you cannot change your protocol on either mobile version. This is a big drawback.
As it stands, Avast SecureLine is more advanced and customizable on desktop, but not drastically more so.
24/7 Live Chat
Avast SecureLine's online resources are lacking and a little basic, but it has introduced a 24/7 live chat with helpful customer support agents. Should you encounter a technical problem, Avast support will offer a reasonably fast and efficient response.
|24/7 Live chat support||Yes|
|Email support via an online form||Yes|
Avast has upped its game when it comes to support. One time it encouraged you to call it or forced you to patiently wait for an email response. Now it has invested in a neat 24/7 live chat feature alongside traditional FAQs and email enquiries.
The FAQs in the app and on the website are all a little too basic to be truly helpful. We wanted to know how Avast Mimic protocol works, for example, but could find no information on it. This doesn’t bode well for transparency. We did get a response from the live chat agent, though.
If you choose customer support you’ll be sent to the website where you have to specify what product you need help with (Avast is a company with many). Once you do you can compose a message and send it as an email or enter a live chat.
Customer support is good and effective. There is a live chat feature available 24/7, and it allows you to download transcripts for future reference.
Support was polite, if a little robotic. They were slow in responding, which implied they didn’t have the knowledge to hand. But the knowledge they did eventually send was helpful and informative.
You cannot access live chat instantly like you can with some VPNs, though. You have to click a few options and fill out a form beforehand.
What was impressive is that we received a follow up email the next day from support expanding on the agents answers, without us ever having to ask:
“I’ve reviewed your live chat correspondence and I see that a question was unanswered regarding our servers.”
It proceeded to offer a more comprehensive answer. This shows initiative from Avast, and a desire to please its customers.
Much Improved, but Still Some Way to Go
The Bottom Line
Avast SecureLine VPN has made some progress improving its service. Its new Mimic protocol is fast, the three-tier pricing structure is simple, the apps are consumer-friendly, and it’s added a very helpful 24/7 customer support system.
But it’s still a mid-tier VPN, not innovating when it comes to internet privacy and security. It logs way too much data, and security, while perfectly safe, isn’t pushing any boundaries.
Smart Mode is a good addition, and we were pleasantly surprised to see Avast work in China. But we’d like to see more customizable features and apps for less popular platforms, like Fire TV Stick and Linux. SecureLine doesn’t even support router configuration.
The server network remains quite small and, streaming wise, Avast is a big disappointment. It doesn’t unblock many of the major streaming sites and there’s no Smart DNS. And while there are P2P servers for torrenting, we don’t recommend it as the safest option.
It’s a mixed bag. Newcomers might appreciate the stripped-back simplicity of Avast SecureLine, but there’s no reason to choose it above well performing competitors.
Additional research by David Hughes
Alternatives to Avast SecureLine VPN
NordVPN is better than Avast on every front, and cheaper too. It’s great at unblocking streaming services, is just as user-friendly, and it’s pushing boundaries in VPN security. Read NordVPN review
Go for ExpressVPN instead if you simply want to get the best that money can buy. It’s more expensive than Avast, but it’s far more dependable, and does almost everything you want a VPN to do. Read ExpressVPN review