Jurisdiction: Czech Republic | Advanced Privacy Features: Kill Switch (only at Mac), Smart Mode | Number of Servers and Countries: 34 countries, number of servers is unknown | Streaming and P2P: Restricted, dedicated servers
Avast is a large company based out of the Czech Republic that’s known for its antivirus products. However, in late 2017, Avast expanded into the VPN market with Avast SecureLine VPN. In this Avast VPN review, we’ll look at how this relatively new VPN stacks up against other options based on security, speed, streaming capabilities, pricing, and more.
Pros and Cons of Avast VPN
Although Avast is a big player in the world of internet security, its VPN is somewhat lacking. While this Avast VPN review points to its basic security features, experienced users will discover quickly that it needs more to ensure its users’ privacy. For example, it doesn’t have a kill switch available on most platforms.
On top of that, Avast SecureLine VPN raises some red flags when it comes to privacy. It collects too much information, which is worrisome, especially for those who need a VPN for P2P activity. However, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s break down the pros and cons:
- A solid distribution of servers over 34 different countries
- Reliable speeds, some of them impressive
- Has native applications with slick designs for many popular platforms
- Includes VPN kill switch for MacOS users
- Unblocks Netflix and BBC iPlayer
- Has servers that are optimized for streaming and torrenting
- Transparent about its privacy policies
- Offers protection against DNS & IPv6 leaks
- Prices are within the average range
- Privacy practices are somewhat questionable (including controversy around log collecting in 2020)
- Inflexible pricing and confusing plans
- Fewer server locations than many popular VPNs
- Lack of advanced features (and privacy tools)
- No router support
- Kill switch is only available for Mac users
- Customer support needs improvement (including a lack of online guides)
- Never undergone a publicly-released audit
As you can see, Avast SecureLine VPN is not a bad choice, but there are some definite drawbacks you’ll have to consider. When choosing a VPN, it’s crucial to know why you need a VPN, what you intend to do with it, and if the features you’re getting are worthwhile compared with other offerings on the market.
Is Avast VPN Worth It?
All in all, Avast SecureLine VPN feels a bit like Avast decided to set up its own VPN to compliment the success of its antivirus products but failed to realize everything that’s involved in running a successful VPN. Given Avast’s resources as a large company, Avast VPN should be better.
For instance, Avast SecureLine VPN has a small network of servers in just 34 countries. While this is not bad, Avast VPN does not disclose the number of servers it has. Combine this with the fact that the company collects some of your data, and it’s easy to see how Avast VPN may not be the best choice.
What’s more, Avast VPN lacks customization features and additional security options, making it not particularly good at security and not the most flexible of services. Plus, its speeds vary depending on server location and tend to plummet if you’re trying to connect to a server that is far from your location.
That said, one of its defining features is how fast connection speeds can be in same-country servers. It also unblocks geo-restricted content for Netflix and the BBC iPlayer, which is excellent if that’s what you need a VPN for. However, Avast VPN is blocked by most other streaming services.
So, is Avast VPN worth it? Given that it’s not particularly good at security or streaming, there’s little to endorse. Plus, with Avast’s questionable data collection policies, we can’t recommend Avast VPN for torrenting and other P2P activity.
The bottom line is, some may find Avast SecureLine VPN a simple VPN that does what they need it to. Nonetheless, it feels like a second-rate product designed as an upsell for Avast’s (admittedly useful) antivirus products. If you’re serious about security or unblocking geo-restricted content, there are other VPNs you may find more worthwhile.
About Avast SecureLine VPN
Avast SecureLine VPN is a VPN provider owned and operated by Avast, a company based out of the Czech Republic. Avast is a well-known provider of antivirus products. In 2017, the company purchased AVG, another antivirus company that also happened to be a VPN provider. That same year, Avast SecureLine VPN was launched.
Since it came out, Avast VPN’s features and servers have remained mostly unchanged. In fact, Avast SecureLine VPN and AVG Secure VPN (which is still offered) share the same VPN servers and general privacy policies.
This is essential information because, in January 2020, there were reports that Avast and AVG were collecting user data and transferring it to Avast’s subsidiary company, Jumpshot. It was then repackaged and sold. However, as soon as the reports came out, Avast discontinued this practice.
Still, given that one of the defining features of a VPN is privacy and security, getting your VPN from a company with that kind of history is a serious red flag. That said, it appears that Avast is no longer selling customer data.
Here’s a breakdown of Avast SecureLine VPN:
- Data: unlimited bandwidth
- Speed: averaging 98Mbps depending on the server connection
- Logging Policy: saves some user logging information for 30 days
- Data Leaks: None reported
- Jurisdiction: Czech Republic (a member of the EU)
- Servers: Not disclosed, although its servers are in 34 countries
- Torrenting: Restricted
- Streaming: Netflix US, BBC iPlayer, but not many others
- Support: Limited online resources and email support
Overall, Avast VPN looks okay. Its speeds are pretty good, and it comes at a fair price. However, it doesn’t have many features, and Avast still collects more user data than you might be comfortable with (we’ll get to that in a minute).
Jurisdiction and Privacy Laws
Avast is a relatively large company based out of the Czech Republic. It was founded in 1988 by Eduard Kučera and Pavel Baudiš as an antivirus company during the early conception of computer viruses. Since then, it has become a leading tech company that specializes in antivirus and computer security products.
Avast has its headquarters in Prague. Because of this, it is subject to EU data laws that have partnerships with other countries, including the United States. While Avast states that it would never voluntarily hand over personal data, if it was compelled by law to do so, Avast would be forced to comply.
The issue here lies in the fact that Avast VPN logs your username and timestamps, which a lot of other VPNs do not do. So, if there ever were to be a request by the law for this information, Avast would have to provide it.
The good news is that Avast VPN is very transparent about its privacy and logging policies. The bad news is that the company collects more information than other VPNs. As such, the data that Avast VPN collects is as follows:
- Timestamps of each connection. Avast claims it does this “to manage the number of concurrent active connections, and handle abuse.”
- The subnet of your originating IP address. Avast claims it does this “to plan for increased network demand capacity.”
- The IP address of the VPN server you’re using. Avast claims it does this “to troubleshoot our service and plan for new network capacity.”
- Amount of data transmitted. Avast claims to do this “to plan for new network capacity and server improvements.”
Avast says it collects this data to ensure it can provide and operate its VPN service effectively. However, this is a lot more information than most VPNs need to run a safe and efficient VPN. While it might not look like much, many VPN users value privacy above all else, and Avast’s policies may seem overly intrusive to these users.
The good news is that this data is only stored for 30 days. After this time, it is deleted permanently. It should also be noted that Avast VPN explicitly states the data it does NOT collect:
- Avast VPN does NOT collect any complete originating IP address that could identify you.
- Avast VPN does NOT collect any DNS queries while connected. Instead, Avast VPN has its own secure DNS servers.
- Avast VPN does NOT collect any activity logs, including the applications and services you use and the websites you connect to.
Honestly, most casual users should find these policies acceptable. However, the principle lies in the fact that many believe VPN providers should offer complete privacy.
It would be nice for Avast VPN to undergo an internal audit to ensure its policies are followed. However, no publicly-released audits have been conducted or reported Avast VPN reviews as of this writing.
2020 Antivirus Logging Controversy
In December 2019, there was some controversy concerning Avast’s data collection policies. It started with Avast Online Security and Avast-owned AVG Online Security being removed as browser extensions by Mozilla for breaking its privacy rules. These add-ons were harvesting data and sending it back to Avast.
Although Avast claims this data collection was necessary for detecting fraudulent websites, data harvested included search terms visited websites, clicked links, watched videos, and a per-device unique ID.
Then, in January 2020, more controversy was stirred up when it was discovered that Avast Antivirus and AVG Antivirus programs were also harvesting user data and selling it through Avast’s subsidiary Jumpshot. Almost immediately, Avast discontinued the practice.
Of course, there’s no evidence that Avast’s VPN is harvesting data in this way, and the VPN’s policies state otherwise. Nevertheless, it’s concerning and makes it hard to trust Avast to keep your data private, especially when it comes to a privacy-centered product like a VPN.
It wouldn’t be an Avast VPN SecureLine review if we didn’t cover features. As such, you’ll find all of Avast VPN’s essential features below. Overall, Avast VPN has many standard features but not a lot to make it stand out from competitors.
Basic VPN Connection Settings
For starters, once you’re inside Avast VPN’s app, there’s a VPN Mode settings menu. From this menu, you can enable and disable the VPN. You can also choose to automatically start the VPN whenever you’re connected to the internet.
This is nice, but if you prefer more control, you can set the app to ask you first if you want to enable the VPN when the device is connected. Alternatively, you can disable both options and connect the VPN manually whenever you want to use it.
Another common feature the Avast VPN has is the capability to assign trusted networks. Trusted networks are those that you don’t want to connect to using the VPN. If you add a network to this list, Avast VPN will automatically disconnect when you’re using that network.
For instance, you may want to protect your website data while using public wifi, so you want your VPN to be enabled when you’re at the coffee shop or other places. However, when you’re home on your own network, you may prefer to have your VPN disabled.
VPN Kill Switch
Like most VPNs, Avast VPN has a kill switch that will automatically disconnect the internet from your device in the event the VPN connection is dropped. This feature is vital to preserving privacy, as the last thing you want is to think you’re still using a secure network when you’re not.
Avast VPN’s kill switch is designed to automatically block any packets from exiting your device if your VPN connection is lost. However, it’s not enabled by default, and we recommend enabling it as soon as you begin using Avast VPN.
By default, Avast VPN is in what the app calls Manual Mode. There is also a Smart Mode you can use to make using your VPN a lot easier. With Smart Mode enabled, you can have your VPN automatically connect under any of the following circumstances:
- When you connect to unknown networks
- When you torrent
- When you browse the web
In addition, you can check or uncheck any of the above criteria depending on how you want your VPN to function. This feature is a handy way to ensure your VPN is always running when you need it to.
Many VPNs have a limit on the number of devices that can use them simultaneously, although there are some without this restriction. As for Avast VPN, you’re limited to up to five device connections at the same time. To do more than five, you’d need more than one account.
The reason simultaneous connections are important is to protect the growing number of devices we all have these days. Most of us now have laptops, smartphones, tablets, SmartTVs, and other devices that we use on a regular basis. Compound this with every device your family uses, and it’s easy to see how a limit on device usage can be a problem.
Of course, just because you have all of these devices does not mean you need a VPN for all of them. The issue is that it’s become increasingly difficult for us to separate work from play in our digital lives. For this reason, it helps to have a VPN that enables simultaneous connections on as many devices as possible.
Avast VPN’s five device limit is not bad. Many VPNs cap this limit somewhere between five and eight. That said, there are available VPN providers that do not have this limit. As always, it’s crucial to find a VPN that suits your individual needs.
Absent Popular Features
While the above features are nice, Avast VPN is rather simplistic compared with many other VPN providers. It’s missing features like an ad blocker to optimize your data usage and additional security features like a dedicated IP and a double VPN, both that would add an extra layer of protection online from hackers and prying eyes.
Some other security features that Avast VPN is lacking are Stealth VPN and RAM-only servers. With Stealth VPN, your VPN traffic is disguised as regular traffic. With RAM-only servers, your data is never archived as the VPN only uses RAM memory that automatically dumps every time the server reboots.
On top of that, another way to further encrypt your traffic is by using Multihop servers, also called cascaded VPNs, that route your connection through a second VPN server. This feature makes it much more difficult to track and identify your web activity. Avast SecureLine VPN does not support this service.
Other absent features include split tunneling and router support. Split tunneling is a feature that enables you to choose whether or not an app’s traffic is routed through your VPN or regular ISP connection. For example, you can opt to send P2P traffic through the VPN while you send other traffic through your standard network.
As for router support, this feature allows you to install a VPN on your router directly. In this way, you get the benefits of a VPN on your router, thereby bypassing the limit on simultaneous device connections. It’s a nice thing to have, but it’s not one supported by Avast VPN.
Avast SecureLine VPN provides native applications for the following platforms:
The AndroidTV app works by pairing your AndroidTV device with another device running Avast VPN, thereby making it a bit awkward to use. However, other than that, the rest of the apps are uncluttered and fairly straightforward to use.
Avast VPN also has a browser extension for Google Chrome, although you’ll first have to install the native app to download it. Given this fact, it’s probably better to stick with the system-wide VPN. Of course, if you only need protection for your browser traffic, it’s a nice option to have.
Unfortunately, Avast VPN does not have support for Linux or routers. Nonetheless, considering the straightforward nature of this VPN, most users interested in such things are likely to opt for a different VPN.
Once you’ve installed Avast VPN’s app, you can do a few basic things from the General settings page, like enable and disable notifications. You can also choose whether or not to start Avast VPN when your device boots up and toggle language settings. There’s also an option to receive beta updates if you’re interested.
Other than that, Avast VPN only supports the OpenVPN protocol. It’s a secure one that ensures a consistent experience across platforms, but it would be nice to have the option for others.
Avast SecureLine VPN has servers in 34 total countries and 54 cities. Overall, this server network is small and below average. Interestingly, Avast VPN fails to disclose how many servers it has, which is unusual as most VPN provide at least a general number of servers. Instead, Avast VPN claims to have over 1000 IP addresses.
Given this information, Avast VPN has decent global coverage. Asia is well served. However, the numbers are somewhat skewed as there are a lot of countries included where Avast VPN only has one city with servers. These locations are:
- Melbourne, Australia
- São Paulo, Brazil
- Petah Tikva, Israel
- Johannesburg, South Africa
In these places, there’s a high chance of congestion issues. So, if you’re connecting in one of these areas, the servers will likely have slower VPN speeds. Plus, as Avast VPN’s customer base grows, you can expect issues to arise if they don’t get some additional servers.
The vast majority of Avast VPN’s servers are in North America and Europe. In the United States, there are 16 city-level servers providing coverage for both the west and east coast and everything between.
In Europe, Avast VPN also has plenty of servers. You can expect fast speeds and respectable coverage for Spain, Russian, Germany, the United Kingdom, and most of Europe. That said, Avast VPN uses a single shared IP address for its servers, which can put a damper on speeds and cause further congestion issues.
Avast VPN Netflix and Other Streaming
Many use VPNs to unblock streaming content that is blocked by geographical restrictions. As for Avast VPN, it’s a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to streaming. Although you can access Netflix content with Avast VPN, most other streaming services remain inaccessible.
Unfortunately, in 2016, lawmakers put pressure on Netflix to enforce geo-restrictions imposed by distributors and content creators. In response, Netflix began banning VPNs. However, they began doing this for all of their content and not just the geo-restricted stuff.
More recently, it seems Netflix has relaxed its VPN policy somewhat in order to allow VPN users to access content that is not geo-restricted. Because of all of this, it’s become a matter of trial and error to determine whether a VPN unblocks Netflix or doesn’t. Plus, it’s crucial to look to ensure that all content is unblocked.
The good news is that Avast VPN does work for unblocking content on Netflix, including Netflix US. The catch is that you have to use one of its servers dedicated to streaming. There are five of them, and they are located in:
- Wonderland, UK
- Miami, US
- New York, US
- Gotham, US
- Berlin, Germany
All of these servers work for unblocking Netflix, except for the UK server. The four servers that do work provide you with access to three Netflix libraries. That’s not bad, but that’s about all you can stream with Avast VPN.
As for other streaming services, Avast VPN fails to unblock most of the popular ones. In Avast VPN reviews, no one is able to unblock Disney+, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, or others. The server in the UK does provide access to ITVHub, but that’s about it.
The bottom line is that Avast SecureLine VPN is not designed to unblock geo-restricted content. It works for Netflix, but not for other services. If unblocking content is one of the primary reasons you need a VPN, there are other providers you may want to consider.
Avast VPN Torrenting
Avast SecureLine VPN has eight dedicated servers for torrenting and other P2P activity. The reason for this is that Avast limits P2P activity to its data centers for additional security. The server locations are:
- New York City, New York
- Frankfurt, Germany
- Miami, Florida
- Seattle, Washington
- London, United Kingdom
- Paris, France
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
As we talked about above, Avast VPN logs more data than most torrenters are going to feel comfortable with. Plus, given Avast’s history with harvesting data and selling it through a subsidiary company, we can’t recommend Avast VPN for torrenting.
If you’re not sure if Avast VPN is right for you, that’s okay. There are plenty of VPNs to choose from, including some with more to offer at a better price. While Avast VPN’s speeds and Netflix streaming capabilities may be appealing, you may want to consider one of the following alternatives instead.
Surfshark is a budget-friendly VPN that offers unlimited device connections. It’s also an excellent VPN for unblocking geographically restricted content and engaging in P2P activity on multiple simultaneous devices.
Like Avast VPN, Surfshark can unblock Netflix US and BBC iPlayer. However, it also enables access to Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and more. That said, streaming speeds with Surfshark are capable but not fast enough for UltraHD quality.
As a budget-friendly option, Surfshark does not have the speeds that you can get with Avast VPN. Surfshark’s speeds range from 29Mbps to 15Mbps, depending on the server. Although this is not bad, it does not compare with the speeds you can get when you connect to a server geographically close to your location using Avast VPN.
Where Surfshark truly shines above Avast VPN is in its features and security protection. With its CleanWeb protection feature, Surfshark guards against malware and other security threats. What’s more, Whitelister enables you to select specific websites and apps to bypass the VPN, so you can still use local websites without having to disconnect and a whole lot more.
Overall, Surfshark is a reasonable, budget-friendly solution. It’s perfect for families and households looking for a VPN to unblock geo-restricted content.
- Over 1,040 servers worldwide.
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unlimited device connections
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Lots of security features
- Fewer servers available
- Slower speeds than other VPNs
Of course, if you’re looking for the best VPN on the market, NordVPN is a stand-out solution. With over 5,500 servers worldwide, including 1,600+ in the United States, 400+ in Canada, 270+ in Australia, and 40+ in New Zealand, it has a much larger network than Avast VPN, although connection speeds vary from server to server.
On top of that, NordVPN is excellent for unblocking geo-restricted content, providing access to Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and others. Plus, it offers unlimited bandwidth and has servers in locations all over the world.
Like Avast VPN, NordVPN limits the number of devices you can use on one account simultaneously. However, NordVPN comes with a lot more features, including Quick Connect, which enables you to connect to the fastest server in a given location. You also have the option to obtain a dedicated IP address. What’s more, NordVPN has excellent customer service and fast server speeds.
All in all, NordVPN has a lot to offer, including features that Avast VPN does not have. It is a bit more expensive, and its interface can be confusing for first-time VPN users, but it still comes highly recommended.
- Over 5,500 servers in 58 countries
- Designed to circumvent geolocation restrictions
- Unlimited bandwidth
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- It can be used on up to six devices
- Challenging to learn for new VPN users
- Challenging to locate common features like the kill switch
What Reddit Says About Avast VPN
Interestingly, Reddit users have mixed opinions of Avast VPN. Mostly it boils down to the company’s privacy policies. While Avast SecureLine VPN users report fast speeds and smooth performance, some are concerned that too much of their data is being recorded.
That said, many users report being perfectly fine with Avast VPN’s privacy policies. In fact, since there is a general mistrust of VPN policies, some label Avast’s transparency as a good thing.
In the past, there have been VPN companies that have failed to disclose the data they were harvesting. In response, VPN companies have begun being as upfront as possible about the data they record. Avast VPN lays out exactly what data they log, why they do it and states that they erase everything every 30 days.
So, instead of claiming a zero-logging policy and then covertly harvesting data, Avast VPN logs only the minimum amount of data needed to effectively run a VPN, keep server speeds high, and ensure security.
After all, the only ones who should be truly concerned about timestamped VPN logs are those using the VPN for heavy criminal activity. As several Reddit users point out, lawmakers have better things to do than to prosecute those who casually torrent a movie here and there.
When it comes to pricing, Avast SecureLine VPN is available in many different and confusing plans. The problem is that, unlike most VPNs that base price on the duration of a subscription, Avast can be bundled with other products and services, and it can be rather confusing to calculate the exact price you’re paying per month.
For starters, you can get Avast VPN for up to five devices or opt to use it for a single device. You can get Avast VPN for Mac or PC for a single device for $59.99 per year for one device or $99.99 for up to ten devices.
For mobile devices, plans are billed at $2.99 a month for a single device or $19.99 for a year. This is handy if you only need protection for your Android or iOS device but can get costly pretty fast if you start using this plan for more than one device.
So, if you’re planning to use Avast VPN on more than one device (up to five at a time), then you’ll likely need a multi-platform plan. This plan is $79.99 per year for up to five devices on any platform, which comes out to $8.99 a month, but drops to $5.33 a month with a 12-month subscription.
From there, you can lower the price by committing to longer-term contracts. For instance, with a two-year plan, the price drops to a reasonable $4.99 per month. And with a three-year plan, this becomes slightly cheaper at $4.88 a month.
Avast VPN offers a seven-day free trial. Giving Avast VPN a try using this free trial period is a solid choice as Avast does not ask for any personal details, and there are no restrictions on servers or data usage. Plus, you’ll get full access and speed as if you were a paid subscriber.
There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, you can only receive a refund if you keep bandwidth usage below 10GB and connect to the VPN fewer than 100 times during the 30 days.
All in all, Avast SecureLine VPN is not bad. It has decent speeds and unblocks Netflix on four of its five servers dedicated to streaming. However, it’s essential to mention that it only supports Netflix catalogs from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany. Also, if you have a fast internet connection, you may see some slow-down.
The problem is that Avast VPN has little going for it that other VPNs can’t do better. It has fewer features than many of its competitors. Plus, it only supports a single VPN protocol, which is a good one (OpenVPN) but is still a restriction.
What’s more, Avast as a company throws up some red flags because of past controversies involving the harvesting of data for its subsidiary company, Jumpshot. You really don’t want to see things like this from a company selling you a privacy product. On top of that, despite the company’s discontinuation of this practice, it still collects more information about its users than other VPNs.
If you compare Avast SecureLine VPN with other VPN providers like Surfshark and NordVPN, it simply doesn’t stack up. Even Avast VPN’s pricing is not the best, requiring a commitment of at least one year (which you have to have in order to contact customer service, by the way). To make Avast VPN’s pricing worthwhile, you have to commit to a long-term contract, which is not something everyone wants to do.
At the end of the day, there are other VPNs that offer more for less. As we’ve broken things down in this Avast VPN review, it’s become apparent that Avast SecureLine VPN falls into a middle-of-the-road category, failing to get the edge over the competition on anything.
Still, if you’re a fan of Avast’s other security products, such as its antivirus software, you may find it convenient to sign up for Avast SecureLine VPN. After all, it does provide internet privacy, unblocks Netflix, and offers smooth connections and reliable speeds.