Jurisdiction: Czech Republic | Advanced Privacy Features: Kill Switch (only at Mac), Smart Mode | Number of Servers and Countries: 36 countries, number of servers is unknown | Streaming and P2P: Restricted, dedicated servers
Thomas Hofer and Jan Gritzbach founded AVG company in Czechoslovakia in 1990. Since then, AVG has made a name for itself as one of the largest and most well-known cybersecurity companies around. In this AVG VPN review, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about AVG VPN so you can choose for yourself whether or not AVG is the best VPN provider for all of your devices.
As the VPN marketplace gets more and more crowded, it’s essential to know what all of these different VPN providers have to offer, especially since so many of them intend to overwhelm the consumer with confusing technical terms and acronyms. Let’s find out if AVG’s “military-grade encryption” really lives up to the hype.
Pros And Cons
By now, you’ve probably already come across a few AVG VPN reviews online. While we’re not going to jump into our AVG VPN review just yet, for this brief section, we’ll give you a distilled, just-the-facts look at what AVG VPN has to offer for your home network’s day-to-day security needs.
- Stable VPN connection with respectable speed
- Server network optimized for torrenting and streaming
- Kill switch feature with no DNS or IP leakage
- Successfully unblocks geo-restricted content
- VPN service is easy to install and easy to use
- AVG maintains user logs with timestamps
- Limited server network across 36 countries
- Few options for users to configure VPN
- AVG VPN will not work in China
- Subpar technical support
After spending a few days with AVG downloaded across numerous devices, I’ve concluded that AVG is another VPN provider that talks a big game in terms of features and protection but ends up falling woefully short once you’ve installed it. This is more than a little disappointing since AVG never misses an opportunity to talk up its cybersecurity bonafide.
As I was writing this AVG Secure VPN review, I found myself being always disappointed. While AVG did provide a stable VPN connection that didn’t affect my network speeds, I was disappointed by the general lack of features and the limited footprint of AVG’s server network.
Who Is AVG?
Since AVG’s founding in 1990, the company has gone through several different ownership changes. When it was initially founded under the name Grisoft by Thomas Hofer and Jan Gritzbach, the company operated independently as a software security firm specializing in VPN services and antivirus software.
In 2001, the venture capital firm Benson Oak Capital acquired AVG. There were further ownership changes over the years until Avast acquired AVG in 2016. Under Avast’s ownership, AVG has acquired ownership stakes in several other companies, including the Israeli VPN provider Privax.
AVG VPN Offers Very Few Features
Unlike many of the VPN’s I’ve reviewed in the past, AVG is a large company with an established presence in other areas of cybersecurity. AVG sells antivirus software and enterprise-level security applications, firewall software, and “cleaner” software that will wipe information off a hard drive or mobile device.
Alongside all of these other products, AVG’s VPN software seems like an afterthought. Besides the kill switch (which is a low-hanging fruit where VPN features are concerned), there’s very little to distinguish AVG’s VPN service. There’s no split tunneling, no dedicated IP, and no router support for more advanced installations.
About AVG VPN
For this part of our AVG VPN review, I’ll spend some time going over the basic features of the VPN so that readers can have a clear understanding of what AVG offers its subscribers. For its VPN service AVG offers VPN protection for both Mac and PC and iPhones, iPads, and Android phones.
From here, AVG’s offerings look relatively standard. If you sign up for AVG, you’ll get 256-bit AES encryption (which AVG repeatedly refers to as “military-grade”). With the purchase of a subscription, you’ll get simultaneous access to a maximum of five devices. AVG bills itself as a reliable service that’s easy to use and easy to install.
I Can’t Find A List Of Server Locations
I have no trouble nailing down the basic contours of what a subscription with AVG is supposed to look like. The problem is that when I look around on the website, trying to find the same country-by-country listing of server locations other self-respecting VPN services would provide, I can’t find one.
This means that I can’t find out where AVG’s servers are until I purchase a subscription and install the VPN on my Macbook Pro, which I think is shady. After installing the VPN, I see that AVG has servers spread across 36 countries. Besides servers in the U.S., there are three servers in South America, one in Africa, and two in the Middle East.
AVG’s Server Network Is Thin
I shouldn’t have had to download and install AVG’s VPN to get a look at their server network finally. What makes things worse is the spotty nature of AVG’s server network. Compared to NordVPN’s server network (5480 servers spread across 59 countries) or ExpressVPN’s server network (3000 servers spread across 94 countries), AVG looks downright pathetic.
The final insult here is that after taking a closer look at AVG’s small server network, AVG only gives you the option of unblocking geo-restricted content at the city level for six countries, all of which are in Europe or North America. As I try logging onto any of these servers, my connection speeds get lower the further away the server is.
Jurisdiction And Privacy Laws
Currently, AVG is an independent company that Avast VPN owns. Both AVG and Avast are in the Czech Republic. Since the Czech Republic is a member of the European Union, this places AVG under the EU’s strict data retention laws.
Suppose you’re considering purchasing a subscription with AVG and being concerned about privacy. In that case, this is terrible news because it means that AVG maintains detailed user logs for all of its subscribers. By keeping detailed user logs, AVG potentially can leak or turn over user information.
AVG Collects Several Types Of User Information
- All data sent and received during a session
- The subnet of your original internet protocol address
- The subnet of the VPN server(s) you logged onto
- The timestamp of your connection and disconnection
For this part of our AVG VPN review, we will take a closer look at its management structure. While AVG’s small server network will disappoint some people, AVG doesn’t have the same transparency issues that several other less-than-reputable VPN providers do.
Since 2016, AVG has merged with Avast. AVG lists roughly 600 employees and an annual 155 million dollars in revenue. Since the merger between Avast and AVG, AVG has become one of the most established names in the cybersecurity marketplace, with AVG software applications installed on over 400 million devices worldwide.
AVG Has Purchased Several Other Companies
Besides merging with Avast in 2016, AVG has been purchasing other cybersecurity firms at a rapid pace. In 2014, AVG purchased mobile security firm Location Labs for a reported price of 220 million U.S. dollars. In 2015 AVG purchased VPN provider Privax, as well as the Israeli photo-gallery application Myroll.
AVG also purchased Piriform, a U.K. security firm that developed a clean-up application with over 130 million downloads. So it would appear that while AVG’s VPN service leaves a lot to be desired, the company is an established and reputable presence in the cybersecurity field. Currently, AVG CEO Gary Kovacs oversees company operations.
As I stated earlier, AVG VPN has a tiny server network covering 36 countries, with the ability to unblock geo-restricted content at the city level for 55 cities. Since AVG operates in the Czech Republic, AVG is subject to a strict and invasive logging policy that allows AVG to mine a significant amount of data from its subscribers.
In terms of platform compatibility, AVG VPN is compatible with PC and macOS desktops and laptops. AVG is also compatible with the iPad and the iPhone, as well as Android phones. What’s a little disappointing here is that AVG doesn’t appear to be compatible with Apple TV or other streaming devices. There’s no option for direct-to-router installations, either.
AVG Doesn’t Offer Very Many Features
This part of our AVG VPN review was a struggle to write because AVG simply doesn’t offer many features that are worthy of discussion. In trying to explain AVG VPN’s minimal features list, the only answer I can come up with is that AVG is trying to position itself as an a la carte security operation that provides a basic VPN service with no extra features.
For this part of our AVG VPN review, it’s almost easier to talk about what AVG doesn’t offer rather than what it does offer. AVG doesn’t offer split tunneling or the option to use a dedicated IP address. For subscribers, the lack of features is going to be disappointing.
Absent Popular Features
Our AVG VPN review has been a challenge to write because AVG doesn’t offer many features, and they’ve designed their VPN to provide minimal protection at best. For this section of my review, I’m going to spend a little bit of time discussing some of the features that AVG should add to its VPN service to make it more comparable to AVG’s competitors.
Router Installation Support
For more savvy VPN users looking to install a VPN service directly to their modem or router, AVG Secure VPN needs to provide documentation that will allow them to. While some subscribers are sufficient simply downloading the AVG app as required, there are still more savvy VPN users who will choose direct-to-router installations that protect every device (wired or wireless) on a network.
Split Tunneling Feature
In recent years, split tunneling has become a standard feature for many VPN services, which is every bit as important as an integrated kill switch. If AVG provided a split-tunneling feature with its VPN service, users would have the ability to direct non-sensitive web traffic over public servers while keeping sensitive traffic on protected, anonymous servers.
Dedicated IP Address
Another notably absent feature for AVG Secure VPN is the ability to set aside a dedicated IP address for all of your web traffic. A dedicated IP address is a static IP address that only one user can use at a time. The beauty here is that whatever VPN server you log onto, you’re not stuck sharing an IP address with thousands of other users on the same server.
Strict No-Log Policy
While many VPN providers based in the U.S. and elsewhere have strict no-log policies that don’t allow user data of any kind to be gathered or disseminated, the biggest disappointment with AVG VPN so far is its lax logging policies. If AVG VPN wants consumers to take it seriously, it needs to find a way to abide by Czech privacy laws while keeping its user data private and secure.
Comprehensive Knowledge Base
In writing this review, AVG came across like several other subpar VPNs I’ve reviewed recently. If AVG wants to be taken seriously in the VPN marketplace, the company needs to maintain a comprehensive and clearly-written knowledge base that helps users troubleshoot possible issues and glitches with the AVG VPN app.
Wider Server Network
AVG needs to expand its server network beyond its current capacity. With a paltry 57 servers spread across 36 countries, AVG’s server network doesn’t leave its users many options for surfing the web privately or unblocking geo-restricted content. Also, AVG should not have forced me to download the AVG VPN app to get a look at the company’s server network.
AVG VPN needs to take a cue from other credible VPN providers and put a detailed map of their server network front and center on their website. AVG also needs to add more options for city-level VPN protection.
Uniform Encryption Protocols
This is an issue I deal with in greater detail in the “Supported Devices” section of this AVG VPN review. Perhaps the most significant factor preventing me from giving AVG VPN a decent review was the fact that the AVG VPN is compatible with specific security protocols on certain platforms, while it’s incompatible with other protocols on other platforms.
AVG needs to redesign its app to work seamlessly, giving the user the ability to utilize different security protocols across other platforms without forcing them to play “mix-and-match”.
In the simultaneous connections department, AVG VPN once again manages to do the bare minimum. If you purchase an AVG subscription, you’ll be allowed to install and run AVG VPN on up to five devices simultaneously. This is nothing to write home to mother about since allowing connections on five devices brings AVG in line with other major VPN providers.
ExpressVPN allows its users to install and connect its VPN service on five separate devices, while NordVPN allows its users to install and run its VPN software on up to six devices. Surfshark VPN and IPVanish VPN both allow unlimited simultaneous connections for their subscribers.
Currently, AVG VPN provides apps for PC, macOS, iOS, and Android. AVG VPN is not compatible with any other streaming devices (like Firestick or Roku), and it does not support Linux or any direct-to-router installations. While I suppose it’s AVG’s choice not to provide compatibility with these platforms, I just wish I didn’t have to go to outside sources for this type of information.
Protocol Compatibility Varies
Depending on the operating system, AVG subscribers are in for a rude awakening. It appears that protocol compatibility can also vary from one platform to another. AVG’s various apps only support OpenVPN or IKEv2.
If you’re operating on Windows or Android, AVG will only support OpenVPN. If you’re on macOS, you’re stuck using IKEv2. The worst part of all of this is that there’s no support for WireGuard on any platform. Be aware that if you choose to run AVG’s VPN, you won’t have the ability to mix and match protocols that other VPNs allow.
No Ability To Change Configurations
The last problem that makes AVG VPN so challenging to work with, besides the fact that compatible protocols vary from one platform to another, is that once you’ve installed the AVG app on one of your devices, you can’t configure the settings to match your needs. After you’ve installed AVG, you’ll be able to turn VPN protection on and off, but that’s about it.
For this section of our AVG VPN review, we’re going to spend some time going over all of the different native apps available with a subscription to AVG VPN.
AVG is compatible with Mac computers and other Apple products. However, there’s no link to the Apple app store from AVG’s website. There’s no AVG native app available for your Mac laptop or desktop; you’ll have to download it directly from the AVG website. AVG’s native mobile app is available from the iPhone and iPad app store.
AVG has no native PC app available. While AVG VPN’s minimal feature list works well with PCs, PC subscribers will have to download and install the AVG VPN service directly from the AVG website.
Despite our best efforts, this is another area where AVG’s non-existent knowledge base and complete lack of coherent marketing visuals left us stumped. We were never able to verify whether AVG VPN provides any native browser extension for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, or Safari.
While we did come across a few resolved support tickets on the AVG website that alluded to native extensions in Chrome, these support tickets paint a picture of wonky, unreliable browser extensions that never actually work. Even after I installed AVG on my devices and tried following some of the support tickets I found, I could still never enable any browser extensions.
Since AVG intends to deliver a no-frills VPN service that’s relatively light on features and configuration variability, there’s not much to say about AVG VPN’s manual settings. Once you’ve installed AVG VPN, you’ll be given a standard VPN user interface, with a drop-down menu for server locations and a toggle switch that lets you know if the VPN is on or off.
Upon installation, your AVG VPN will default to a specific server location. If you want to change these default settings, which are among the few things about AVG VPN that you can configure on your own, you can do that on the left panel from the AVG VPN dashboard. After you’ve adjusted these settings, AVG will default to the server of your choosing.
The Left Panel
From the left panel, you can also choose whether or not you would like to receive notifications from AVG, and you will also have the ability to add trusted networks, which you can exclude from VPN connections. The left panel will also show you available security protocols, as well as subscription information.
This is where you will have the option of disconnecting your device from the VPN and setting your AVG VPN to automatically enable on start-up of your device.
As we’ve stressed repeatedly throughout this AVG VPN review, one of the biggest problems I had with AVG VPN is its thin server network. Currently, AVG VPN has servers in 36 countries. Beyond this necessary information, AVG has provided nothing in terms of information about its server network.
Despite its small number of servers, AVG has put some effort into providing its subscribers with a wide-ranging and geographically dispersed server network. At the time of this writing, AVG has servers in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and several Western European countries. There are also server locations in Asia, the Middle East, south and central America, and Australia.
City-Level Protection Is Lacking
Another problem with AVG’s paltry server network is that the server network only allows you to access geo-restricted content by the city for six countries: the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Spain, Russia, and Germany. This is a bit of a letdown compared to other VPN providers that allow subscribers to access geo-restricted content by city.
When you’re able to access restricted content at the city level, this can sometimes be helpful because it allows you to access servers that are physically closer to you. AVG only lets you use city-level servers in six countries in Europe or North America. In contrast, other larger VPNs with wider server networks allow city-level access across dozens of countries.
Why Is City-Level Protection Important?
When users can have their internet connection routed through a server in a different country, having the ability to choose between multiple server locations (i.e., multiple cities) in a particular country carries several unexpected benefits. Let’s say that I’m a soccer fan in the U.K who’s trying to unblock a qualifying match in France.
Most VPN servers would give someone in my situation a quick option to connect to a server in France somewhere so that I can get around whatever geo-blocks are in place and watch my soccer match. However, one possible scenario is that the nearest french server to my flat is in Paris, roughly 200 miles away.
City-Level Protection Means Faster, More Stable VPN Connections
But let’s say that I was using a more established VPN with a server network that was several times larger than AVG’s network. In this scenario, I would see that my VPN has two dozen servers in France alone, and I have the option to choose between different servers.
I could use the Paris server that’s 200 miles away, or I could use the server in the city of Rouen, France, which is only 100 miles away. Since Rouen is significantly closer to my flat than Paris, it means that my VPN server will maintain a much faster and much more stable connection if I route my traffic through the Rouen server.
When using a VPN, having the ability to choose between multiple servers spread out in various cities in numerous countries lets you establish the fastest and most stable connection possible while also keeping your data and web traffic out of the hands of malicious third parties.
When it comes to using AVG VPN for streaming, the results were pretty mediocre, which only confirms to me that AVG set out to deliver a bare-bones VPN that offers minimal protection. While it is fair to say that when it comes to streaming, AVG gets the job done, there are other VPNs out there that do a much better job of streaming your favorite content.
When it comes to unblocking Netflix, AVG does a reasonably good job, the same as more established VPNs. For this review, I activated AVG, logged onto a U.K. server, and pointed my web browser at Netflix U.K. Surprisingly enough; it worked on the first try with no troubleshooting required. AVG VPN works with Netflix.
From here, I wanted to see if AVG Secure VPN was compatible with the Amazon Firestick or another streaming device such as the Roku. Again, I was disappointed. A glance at AVG’s knowledge base revealed that AVG VPN is not available for Firestick. If you’re looking for a VPN that’s compatible with the Kindle Firestick, check out this resource.
AVG VPN Unblocks Other Streaming Services
If you’re reading this, you probably know that getting a VPN server to unblock foreign Netflix content is no big deal. That’s why I was even more surprised to find out that AVG is adept at freeing other foreign content despite its thin server network. We tried several of AVG’s various U.K. servers and managed to unlock BBC’s iPlayer every single time.
For the real test, I had a buddy of mine in Japan install AVG on his laptop and then use it to unlock U.S. Netflix via one of AVG’s American servers, and it worked like a charm. To be fair, I did notice a little buffering, and my speed test scores were still coming back a little bit lower than I liked, but I did not expect AVG to unblock content this easily.
My AVG VPN review wouldn’t be complete without a quick write-up about its torrenting abilities.
AVG VPN does support torrenting on the P2P-enabled servers in its server network. This was yet another feature that we had to go digging for, but after a few minutes, I figured out that the drop-down menu of P2P-enabled servers on AVG’s network is available from the left-hand menu of AVG’s user interface.
Torrenting With AVG Is Not Safe
Currently, AVG has P2P-enabled servers in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S. However, due to the amount of user data that AVG keeps onhand, we do not recommend AVG VPN for torrenting. If you’re still dying to find out about AVG’s torrenting abilities, you should know that several users have reported slow connections.
If you are looking for a torrenting with a VPN – check this list.
When it comes to VPN software, there are hundreds of different VPN providers to choose from, each with its strengths and weaknesses. I’ve gone to pretty significant lengths here to demonstrate that AVG VPN is a mediocre VPN that often barely manages to get the job done, so in this section, we’ll discuss two VPN providers that are good alternatives to AVG.
My first alternative to AVG VPN is PrivateVPN. PrivateVPN packs a ton of features into a modestly-priced package. With PrivateVPN, you’ll get a dedicated streaming mode that lets you seamlessly unblock content from around the globe. PrivateVPN uses all of the most relevant security protocols, including 256-bit AES encryption with an added 2048-bit DH encryption key.
PrivateVPN can block bandwidth throttling, as well as the ability to bypass geo-restricted websites and geo-restricted mobile apps, in addition to blocked streaming content. Unlike the AVG VPN service, PrivateVPN will also work with the Kindle Firestick and other streaming devices.
PrivateVPN Works Across Different Platforms
Unlike AVG VPN, PrivateVPN works well across all different platforms. This means that no matter what you’re doing and regardless of what type of device you’re on, PrivateVPN will equip you with all of the tools and security protocols you need to keep your online browsing completely private at all times.
For gamers who are looking for a way to get around geo-restricted content, PrivateVPN can protect users against bandwidth throttling and DDoS attacks. With PrivateVPN, gamers will have the ability to log on to different servers to access games banned in their home country.
Another great alternative to AVG VPN is ProtonVPN. Since ProtonVPN is in Switzerland, this places the company under Switzerland’s strict privacy laws, which are much more restrictive than all of the various data retention agreements that AVG VPN is a party to under EU law. ProtonVPN regularly conducts third-party audits and does not keep user logs.
ProtonVPN Is Under The World’s Strictest Privacy Laws
What’s truly impressive about ProtonVPN, however, is its state-of-the-art Secure Core technology. With its Secure Core technology, ProtonVPN subscribers will have their protected traffic routed through two security layers. Subscriber traffic is first directed through a network of servers in jurisdictions with some of the strictest privacy laws in the world.
After ProtonVPN directs your encrypted traffic through the first layer of private servers, ProtonVPN routes it through the server of your choosing. This way, the beauty of doing it is that your data is essentially “washed” twice as it moves around the web. With two security layers, malicious third parties will be unable to see your IP address or any other sensitive data.
The other great thing about ProtonVPN’s various subscription packages is that you get full access to all of its features and protections, even under their free model. Rest assured that unlike AVG VPN, ProtonVPN maintains a strict no-log policy. All of ProtonVPN’s servers belong to the company, and ProtonVPN stores them in secure locations.
Reddit About AVG VPN
For this portion of our AVG VPN review, we went to Reddit to see what other subscribers who had firsthand experience using AVG VPN had to say, which wasn’t exactly encouraging. The few user accounts that we did see which mentioned AVG VPN seem to come from threads populated by users who were trying to figure out if VPN services, in general, were a scam.
One user, Indynevar, posted the question, “Is the AVG Secure VPN secure? Does it keep logs? Should I buy it?” This was the only discussion about AVG VPN we could find anywhere on the platform. However, when we looked elsewhere online, we found plenty of AVG reviews that more or less confirmed what we already knew.
Most Of The Reviews Are Bad
Most of the reviews and user accounts we came across that dealt with AVG VPN told the same story. There were accounts of unstable connections, shady marketing practices, a piecemeal knowledge base, and choppy streaming abilities. Online tech review site SafetyDetectives, initially gave AVG VPN a reasonably high score for performance and pricing.
Later, however, SafetyDetectives pulled its recommendation for AVG VPN because of its lax user log policies. Another review site, VPNMentor.com, gave AVG VPN mediocre reviews because of its limited feature menu. VPNMentor writes that “AVG Secure VPN is a budget service that doesn’t offer anything special.”
Interestingly, virtually all of the sources we consulted to get some idea of the user experiences associated with this VPN service said the same thing. The reviews all indicated that while AVG is a good VPN service for basic things like accessing restricted content on more mainstream streaming services, it falls woefully short everywhere else.
If you’re in the market for a no-frills VPN service, and you’re still considering giving AVG VPN a shot, then you’re in luck because AVG VPN offers a free trial to all of its subscribers. Subscribers are offered the 7-day free trial at sign-up, with the free trial period automatically rolling over to a regular subscription at the end of the trial period.
The AVG VPN free period is available to all subscribers, regardless of which platform they download it on. Once you click on the link for the free trial from the sign-up screen, you’ll select which platform or operating system you would like to download AVG VPN on.
This free trial period is another feature where AVG has tried to bring its product offerings in line with its competitors. Currently, ExpressVPN, Surfshark, and IPVanish offer their subscribers generous trial periods with no obligation to purchase a paid subscription. If you’re in the market for a VPN that doesn’t cost anything, check out this list of the best free VPNs.
No AVG VPN review would be complete if I didn’t discuss pricing. While I avoid talking about absolute prices, I can tell you that in addition to offering a no-pressure 7-day free trial, AVG VPN also offers multiple subscription packages lasting from one to three years.
Depending on which subscription package you choose, you can plan on paying from $3.99 to $4.99 a month, depending on the selected package’s duration. You won’t be required to enter an activation code to use AVG Secure VPN. With prices this low, AVG Secure VPN is for novices and not pros.
Quality And Billing Issues
While AVG operates in the Czech Republic, the company runs its American operations from San Francisco. We looked up AVG’s profile with the California Better Business Bureau and found seventy-five complaints about billing discrepancies, refunds, and quality issues.
We found several complaints indicating that AVG is an unreliable VPN that doesn’t work as advertised. We found one complaint from October of 2019 where the complainant blamed AVG VPN for ruining his computer. While these issues should be cause for concern for anyone who wants to subscribe to AVG VPN, the company is responsive in dealing with these issues.
We hope you enjoyed our in-depth AVG VPN review. We hope that all of the information that we’ve provided here demonstrates that while AVG VPN is a good, low-cost, no-frills VPN service that does the job of keeping your internet connection private. AVG VPN does a reasonably good job at unblocking most streaming websites.
However, due to AVG VPN’s lax no-logging policy and its thin feature menu, I still feel that there’s too much missing from AVG’s VPN service to consider it safe to use. The other factors that make me reluctant to recommend AVG VPN are its confusing knowledge base, its inability to work in China, and other heavily censored locations.