Avast SecureLine VPN (also known as Avast VPN) provides reliable performance and a decent level of protection but it’s a little overpriced if you compare it to other VPNs of the same standard. Speeds are good enough on local and international connections for HD streaming and buffer-free downloads, but high latency means gamers should look elsewhere.
You can access both Netflix and BBC iPlayer through dedicated servers. Sleek, modern apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android however there are no manual workarounds for other devices, including routers.
Avast offers a high level of encryption (AES-256) as well as protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks. We were very surprised at the lack of VPN kill switch from such a well-known brand (it’s available on MacOS but no other platforms), however the minimal logging policy goes some way to making up for this.
The apps unfortunately can’t be made to work in China so if you’re looking to connect out from that country you should choose another provider. Customer support is limited to paying customers and you can choose between a phone call or submitting an online form (be prepared to wait at least 24 hours for a response).
Pricing & Deals
Avast offers so many different pricing plans you shouldn’t have any problems finding one that fits your budget. You can choose to either purchase a subscription that covers up to five simultaneous connections across all platforms, or if you’re only going to be using the VPN on one kind of device (e.g. a laptop or phone) you can pay a little less and just cover that device.
Obviously the most expensive option is the multi-platform subscription, but this does also offer the best value for money. A single month is the priciest plan at $8.99 but this is reduced by 40% to a reasonable $5.33 if you opt for an annual subscription. You can also sign up for two years, at $4.99 a month or three years at $4.88.
Other options include purchasing the VPN exclusively for your PC or Mac – this costs $59.99 every year for one device or $99.99 for up to 10. If you’re just going to be using a either an Android or iOS device it’s a lot cheaper, at only $2.99 per month or $19.99 on the annual plan.
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Avast SecureLine Pricing & Deals
Avast offers both a seven-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee. The free trial is one of the best ones we’ve seen, as not only does it not require any personal details for you to use the service, it also doesn’t come with any kinds of restrictions such as data caps or access to a reduced number of servers. We used the free trial ourselves before upgrading to the paid version and found little to no difference in performance whatsoever, so it should give you an indicator of what to expect on your internet connection. A great way to test out the service before you commit to a long-term subscription.
The 30-day money-back guarantee unfortunately isn’t as good as it first seems, as it is subject to a fair few terms and conditions. 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, which is a far cry from the genuinely “no questions asked” guarantees offered by other top-tier providers. Thankfully if you take advantage of the free trial, you should have a pretty good idea of whether or not Avast is the right choice for you.
Avast offers a really limited range of ways to pay in comparison to most other VPN providers. You can choose from credit/debit card or PayPal, with no option to pay using cryptocurrency or via any international methods.
Speed & Reliability
Avast’s server performance pleasantly surprised us. Our tests showed that connecting to pretty much any server in the US or Europe will give you speeds more than quick enough for HD streaming and buffer-free downloads, and performance on more distant servers (such as Australia) was also incredibly promising. Speedy uploads mean it’s a solid choice for torrenters, however latency was pretty high, meaning gamers might want to look elsewhere. Overall a great all-round performer.
Downloads on local connections are nowhere near those offered by top-tier providers, but they’re more than quick enough for buffer-free streaming and multiple file downloads without breaking a sweat. The Netherlands and the UK both produced speeds of almost 80Mbps, with France not far behind at just under 70Mbps. You can also expect brilliant performance of over 50Mbps connecting out from Europe to the USA, more than ample for streaming across multiple devices. We were equally as impressed with performance in Australia, coming in at a ridiculously quick 49Mbps, especially considering we test from London.
The one thing that really lets Avast down is latency, which was upwards of 17ms even on same-country connections. This means it’s probably a no-go for gamers, especially considering there are providers out there with ping times of less than 1ms.
The desktop app connects fairly quickly each time, in around 10 seconds or less, which we’ve found to be about average in our tests. Once you’re up and running, performance is incredibly reliable with practically no connection drop-outs, provided you have a stable internet connection of course.
Uploads aren’t quite as speedy as downloads but are more than adequate enough for everyday users. Connecting locally you can expect speeds of 40Mbps or more, but these drop off over international connections, as is to be expected. P2P activity is supported on a handful of servers but these are mainly located in Europe and the US, so keen torrenters on other continents might want to take this into account.
Avast offers a good solid level of server performance that will be more than quick enough for most. Speeds on both local and international connections will allow for buffer-free streaming across multiple devices, and zippy local uploads mean it’s a good shout for P2P users in Europe and the US. The only major downside is the laggy latency, but unless you’re a hardcore online gamer this is unlikely to bother you.
To find out about our speed testing methodologies, please read How We Review VPNs.
Avast’s server network is on the small side with just 34 countries and 54 cities on offer. Most popular countries are covered so it probably won’t be a problem for the majority, however if you need to connect to some more unusual locations you might want to double-check the server list before you sign up.
There’s no information on the website about the number of individual IP addresses Avast maintains, however it does state that all servers offer a single shared IP address, making it easier for you to “disappear in the crowd of other Avast SecureLine VPN users”. While this may be true, it could also lead to server congestion at busier times, and therefore reduced performance, which isn’t ideal.
We were pleasantly surprised at the choice of 16 cities in the US, covering both east and west coast with a few choices in-between. A handful of other countries also offer city-level servers, including Canada, Germany, Russia, Spain and the UK.
As is to be expected, Europe has the best coverage accounting for 19 of the 34 total countries, but the Asia-Pacific region is also served pretty well with servers in locations such as Australia, Japan, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Africa and South America have the absolute minimum representation with only one choice on each continent (South Africa and Brazil, respectively).
Platforms & Devices
Avast offers a fairly limited range of custom apps, only covering Microsoft Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android devices. Unfortunately there are no manual workarounds for those platforms lacking native apps, such as Linux, nor are you able to configure your router to work with the software.
This means that the only way to use the VPN is to install individual apps on all of the devices you want to protect, rather than just being able to configure it at router level and automatically secure all internet-connected devices in your home. Thankfully you can use the software on up to five devices simultaneously on the multi-platform plan.
Avast unfortunately doesn’t offer any extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari browsers. Most other top-tier providers will usually offer at least a proxy extension for Chrome or Firefox, with some providing full-featured VPN extensions for all popular browsers. This probably won’t affect the majority of people, but heavy browser users seeking a more lightweight alternative should consider other options. The main upside of using a browser extension is better performance, however you do sacrifice an element of privacy for this, so it’s a case of deciding how much this matters to you.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
Due to the fact that it isn’t possible to install Avast at router level, you won’t be able to use it with any of your games consoles and streaming devices. If your main VPN use is going to be with your Amazon Fire TV Stick, AppleTV, PS4 or Xbox, you’ll need to look into other providers, such as Windscribe, as Avast doesn’t seem to be too concerned with anything outside of the major platforms.
The only way you could potentially get it to work would be to piggyback off another device already running the VPN, such as a laptop or smartphone, however this isn’t recommended anywhere on the website so it’s unlikely you’d have any success. The free trial could come in useful here to run a few tests. If you’re looking for plug-and-play solutions for your streaming devices, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Streaming & Torrenting
Avast is a great choice if you’re looking to access streaming sites such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer or Hulu. The optimized ‘Gotham City’ server has worked with Netflix in all of our recent tests, and excellent performance in that country means you can take advantage of the HD option and watch all your favorite shows without worrying about buffering. We really like that there’s just one server to pick, as it means no endless scrolling and testing, however it also means that if this server were to get blocked, you won’t have any other options to try.
The UK streaming server, ‘Wonderland’, now works to unblock BBC iPlayer, which is great news for fans of the service and once more, we experienced great video quality with very little buffering.
Avast supports torrenting on 8 out of its 54 servers, in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, UK and USA. This seems like a relatively small number but that’s because P2P activity is limited to Avast’s datacenters for a more secure connection. A minimal logging policy and reliable uploads are added bonuses here too.
Encryption & Security
Avast is secure enough for everyday users but probably not for those seeking the highest level of privacy. We really like that the Windows and Android apps operate exclusively on OpenVPN, as this is the most secure VPN protocol, and there’s no way you can connect using another (less secure) one by accident. It’s worth noting that the 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.
Where Avast falls down is the lack of advanced privacy features on offer. We were really shocked to see no VPN kill switch on the Windows app – it’s available exclusively on MacOS at the moment – meaning that if your VPN connection were to drop for any reason, your true IP address would be exposed. This is made worse by the fact that Avast doesn’t operate its own DNS servers, so your web traffic is routed through less secure servers owned by third parties, such as your ISP or Google.
Thankfully protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks is baked into the app, however we would have liked some control over this in the settings. Avast will do just fine if you’re looking to protect yourself on public WiFi but hardcore privacy advocates will want to look into providers that offer more advanced privacy extras, such as Astrill.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
- DNS Leak Blocking
- IPV6 Leak Blocking
Due to a lack of additional obfuscation tools, Avast SecureLine won’t work to overcome the Great Firewall of China, so users who are mainly going to be connecting out from that country should choose another provider.
The Chinese government uses DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) to detect and block suspicious internet traffic, and as OpenVPN is so widely used by VPN providers, it’s almost impossible to outsmart the censors using this protocol. You need to look for a provider that offers a Stealth protocol to give yourself the best chance of accessing blocked websites such as Facebook and Gmail, as these hide the fact you’re connecting using a VPN and disguise you as normal HTTPS traffic.
This means that we also wouldn’t recommend Avast to users in other high-censorship countries such as the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia, as you’re likely to be detected as VPN traffic and therefore blocked. You might not have too many issues in countries such as Turkey though, where the censorship laws aren’t quite as strict, but there’s no way of knowing until you’re there. There are other providers that do a much better job.
Avast collects fairly detailed connection metadata for “technical purposes and to…prevent and detect fraud…or other illicit activity”, which seems pretty reasonable to us. The information they log is as follows:
- Your username
- A timestamp when you connect and disconnect to the VPN
- Total amount of data transmitted during your session
- Your originating IP address and the IP address of your chosen VPN server
This data is stored for 30 days on Avast’s secure servers and then deleted, which is reassuring. The only exceptions to this rule are if Avast suspects you’ve breached the Terms of Service or if you’ve purchased the software fraudulently (i.e. using a stolen credit card).
Avast’s headquarters are in Prague, Czech Republic, making it subject to intrusive EU data laws and intelligence-sharing agreements with other countries such as the US. This probably won’t be too much of a concern for the majority of users, however those seeking the closest possible thing to online anonymity might want to steer clear.
Ease of Use
Avast’s custom apps are incredibly modern and user-friendly, meaning they’ll really appeal to VPN newbies. The main screen keeps it clean and simple, displaying a big on/off toggle along with your chosen server location, new IP address and how long you’ve been connected for. There are also useful bits of information regarding how a VPN works and what your IP address really represents.
We really like the way the server list is laid out, with the option to display all available countries or filter by continent. It’s also really easy to tell which countries have city-level server choice, and those optimized for torrenting or streaming are helpfully labelled. If you don’t need to connect to a specific country, you can just allow Avast to select the ‘Optimal Location’ for you, helping you get the best possible performance.
The only major downside of the apps is the total lack of any configurable settings. There’s no option to manually select a VPN protocol or toggle DNS leak protection on or off – the only thing you can change is whether or not the app automatically turns on when you connect to an unsecured WiFi network. This is ideal for those who simply want to click and connect, but experienced users wanting to fiddle with loads of settings should look elsewhere.
Getting started with Avast is pretty simple so you shouldn’t struggle too much, even if you’ve never set up a VPN before. All you have to do is download the relevant software for whatever device you’re using and follow the prompts given to you by the installation wizard. These are pretty straightforward to follow but should you get stuck, there are detailed setup guides on the support section of the website with helpful screenshots to keep you on the right track.
Once the installation is complete, you’ll be prompted to enter your activation code – you will have received this in your welcome email when you signed up for a subscription. After you’ve done this, your subscription is now active and you can begin using the VPN.
Avast’s customer support really frustrated us at times and simply doesn’t measure up to the top-class service offered by providers such as ExpressVPN. The resources on the website are limited to setup guides and basic FAQs and are incredibly difficult to navigate – thankfully there’s a search feature to prevent too much pointless scrolling. Annoyingly the support section covers all Avast products, so often we found ourselves halfway through an article before realizing it only applied to the Antivirus rather than the VPN (you can filter your results by product but this isn’t made very clear).
We were very surprised at the lack of live chat feature, and the fact that there’s no email address either is pretty frustrating. Avast encourages customers to call them for support over the phone, but this seems a bit unnecessary if you just have a quick query, plus you have no written record of any advice they give you. Your only other option is to submit an online form and wait for a reply via email, but response times were unacceptably slow given the simplicity of our question. The FAQs on the website will cover any basic troubleshooting issues, but for anything beyond that you’ll need to contact the support team and be prepared to be patient.
The Bottom Line
- Reliable speeds of almost 80Mbps on local connections
- Dedicated servers for Netflix & iPlayer
- User-friendly apps for popular platforms
- Connect securely to 34 countries
- Servers optimized for P2P/torrenting
- Bad quality customer support
- Limited server network
- Lacking in any configurable settings
- Based under EU jurisdiction
Avast SecureLine VPN is a solid beginner’s VPN offering reliable performance on both local and international connections. The monthly cost of $4.99 on the two-year plan isn’t too bad but it’s pretty pricey compared to other VPNs of the same standard. Speeds are more than quick enough for HD streaming and buffer-free downloads, plus you can access Netflix and BBC iPlayer through dedicated streaming servers.
Avast provides a decent level of privacy but we were disappointed by the lack of advanced features such as a VPN kill switch (this is only available on Mac). You are protected against DNS and IPv6 leaks, which is a positive, however there’s no option to turn this on and off in the app. They collect pretty detailed connection logs but these are deleted every 30 days, going some way to making up for their jurisdiction in the privacy-unfriendly Czech Republic. Encryption is via top cipher AES-256.
The custom apps are sleek and user-friendly but streamlined to a fault, with practically no configurable settings whatsoever – we really like the way the server list is laid out though. Customer support is frustrating with no live chat and extremely slow email responses, however the resources on the website will help with most basic issues. The apps don’t work in China due to a lack of additional obfuscation tools. Not a bad provider but there are cheaper options out there for this level of service.