Avast is a household name in the anti-virus world but they have rushed a VPN to market that doesn’t live up to this reputation and, particularly when it comes to privacy protection, leaves a lot to be desired.
- Free 7-day trial
- Decent encryption
- User-friendly apps
- Harvests far too much data
- Tiny server network
- Lack of features
If you recognise the name Avast, you have probably used their well-regarded anti-virus software before. If you recognise their apps and servers, you may well have used their stablemate AVG's Secure VPN before.
Both have rushed a VPN to market in recent times to capitalise on what is a fast-growing market.
The big question is whether Avast's VPN can live up to its other software and prove to be a genuine competitor to the best VPNs on the market. We have been putting it through its paces to find out.
One of the first factors of any VPN service to consider is their speeds.
Whether you're likely to be a regular user of your VPN service or just someone who switches it on and off for streaming purposes, speed will impact everything you do.
For a big name like Avast, you would expect decent speeds and surprisingly, that's precisely what we discovered.
To put the service through its paces, we used a UK residential connection (the kind you'll be using) and downloaded a test file.
We did this over a selection of Avast Secureline's VPN servers and pulled the average speed for each. Our connection speed without a VPN at the time of testing was: 58.32 Mbps.
Here is our selection of results:
- UK – 57.98 Mbps
- Netherlands – 57.92 Mbps
- Switzerland – 56.17 Mbps
- Sweden – 56.43 Mbps
- France – 58.03 Mbps
- New York, US – 57.93 Mbps
- Australia – 55.76 Mbps
For a large commercial VPN service with an even larger anti-virus provider behind it, these are surprisingly good results.
Like most VPNs, Avast Secureline confidently states that they keep no user logs. However, like many of their rivals, the devil is in the detail.
This is good news, although we do also note that, to date, Avast Secureline VPN does not have an independent audit to back up these claims.
While Avast Secureline VPN does not log your full originating IP Address, they only remove the final three-digit value, which is worse than not retaining this data at all.
They also keep records of the IP Address and server you use while connected, details of when you connect and disconnect from their service, and the total amount of data you use while connected.
All of this data is apparently kept for 30-days before being disposed of.
Other information that Avast Secureline VPN holds includes the operating system you use and what actions you take within their VPN app.
Some of these logs are not unique to Avast Secure VPN, but this doesn't alter the fact that there is no need for the bulk of this data to be kept.
For people who want to use a VPN to enhance their online privacy, a provider that collects the minimum amount of identifiable information is what you want. And there is no denying that, as things stand, Avast VPN collects far too much to be considered privacy-friendly.
Avast Secureline VPN allows up to five devices to connect to their service at any one time.
For most users, this will be more than enough, but there is no getting away from the fact that five simultaneous connections are the bare minimum we have come to expect these days.
So, while five simultaneous connections are fine, we are still a little disappointed and would have hoped for more.
If the price is an issue, they do also offer packages with just one connection at a discounted rate.
Avast Secureline VPN is headquartered in the Czech Republic.
This is far from ideal. Not only is the Czech Republic a member of the European Union, but it is also a close ally of many countries in the 14-Eyes surveillance network.
This group of countries share intelligence information between themselves and, while we are not aware of specific instances of the Czech's sharing data, their close relations make this almost inevitable.
Avast as a company also produces a transparency report that covers all of its products and services. This also indicates that they do have a working relationship with Czech law enforcement agencies.
This information, when put together with the amount of user information Avast Secureline VPN retains, doesn't make for especially happy reading.
The customer support provisions for Avast Secureline VPN are a bit of a mixed bag and it will depend on your personal preferences whether you are happy with them or not.
Let's begin with the bad points.
There is no live online chat feature which has become the standard and generally preferred customer engagement method for most VPNs. A live chat service is quick and easy and most of our readers seem to prefer it.
There also doesn't appear to a customer support email address either, unless they have hidden it so well that we just couldn't locate it.
But on the positive side, Avast Secureline VPN does have a ticketing service which we didn't find super-fast but which did respond to our requests and provide responses that were helpful and easy to follow.
They also have a telephone helpline which is available on a freephone 0800 number.
This is great for those who don't mind hanging on the line and then trying to explain an issue to someone in person, but our experience suggests that this is not most people's preferred support method.
There is a fair bit of information and an interactive forum available on the website too but while what Avast Secureline VPN does offer is good, we still felt there was scope to go further.
Avast Secureline VPN offers users a total of 59 servers across 36 locations. With 16 of these servers located in the US, that means the rest are spread extremely thinly with most countries only having one server.
Only Russia, Germany, Spain, the UK, and Canada can boast more than one.
If the list of server names sounds familiar, it might be because they are almost identical to the ones available for users of AVG Secure VPN.
Given that the same company owns AVG and Avast, it is hard not to conclude that these two VPNs may well be sharing servers too. The presence of optimised servers located in fictional Gotham City and Wonderland appears to confirm this.
Avast Secureline's server selection is exceptionally minimal with regions outside Europe and North America particularly poorly catered for.
Most premium VPNs offer several thousand servers with popular locations like the USA and the UK boasting hundreds each. For the price that Avast Secure VPN charges for its service, we would expect a lot more.
Does Avast Secureline use virtual servers?
Avast Secureline VPN does not explicitly state that it does or doesn't use virtual server anywhere on its website and we were unable to elicit a response from their customer service team on this point.
They don't have many servers which would usually suggest that they don't use virtual ones. However, the range of locations and fictional servers rather implies that they do.
The jury is out on this one, but we wouldn't be at all surprised if Avast Secureline VPN did use virtual servers.
Does Avast Secureline VPN work in China?
No. Avast Secureline VPN makes no claims to be able to work behind the Great Firewall inside Communist China.
The default VPN protocol used by Avast Secureline VPN is OpenVPN which is relatively straightforward for the Chinese authorities to identify and block.
With no advanced obfuscation features on offer, there is little realistic chance of Avast Secureline VPN being able to work there.
Does Avast Secureline VPN offer Dedicated IP Addresses
No. Avast Secureline VPN only has a limited number of servers and these all offer dynamic IP Addresses.
This means that you will always be sharing your chosen server and its IP Address with other users.
Does Avast Secureline VPN offer Double-Hop servers?
No. Again, Avast Secureline VPN only offers limited servers and none of these come with an advanced double-hop security feature.
Several VPNs do offer this service such as NordVPN and Surfshark but Avast Secureline VPN does not.
Security and Safety
Protocols & Encryption
Avast Secureline VPN offers three different VPN protocols; OpenVPN, IPSec, and IKEv2.
If you use their Windows or Android apps, you will default to OpenVPN, Mac users will find themselves connecting via IPSec, and iOS devices use IKEv2.
All of these protocols are secure, reasonably fast, and suitable for the devices that they default to.
However, a downside to Avast Secureline VPN is that users are not able to switch between protocols. The default protocol on each app is the one you have to use.
For the majority of users, this won't be a concern, but for some, it is a real problem. There is currently also no support for modern lightweight protocols such as Wireguard.
DNS Leak Testing
Avast Secureline VPN comes with a built-in DNS leak protection feature which is automatically enabled. This appears to be effective and in our tests, there was no evidence of any DNS leaks.
This means that there is no chance of your ISP being able to see the websites you are visiting while connected to Avast Secureline VPN.
It also comes with a WebRTC blocker feature. We also tested for WebRTC and IP Address leaks and again found the results extremely satisfactory.
Have there been any Avast Secureline VPN Security Breaches?
Avast Secureline VPN has no records of security breaches itself that we are aware of. But this is a relatively young product, so that is not such a big surprise.
Avast itself is a much bigger organisation with various security products available.
In October of last year, Avast admitted that it had identified a security breach targeting its CCleaner product that originated from an insecure VPN profile.
This appears to have been an individual profile security lapse and there was also no confirmation that it was an Avast Secureline VPN profile.
There have been various other security issues around Avast products over the years.
Given the close similarities between Avast Secureline VPN and AVG Secure VPN, we should also note that there have been various security rumours about that service that could equally apply to Avast Secureline VPN too. However, we have been unable to substantiate any of these specifically.
Is Avast Secureline VPN safe for torrenting?
Yes. Not only does Avast Secureline VPN permit torrenting, but it also offers a number of optimised servers specifically for the purpose. These are located in:
- The Netherlands
- Czech Republic
A list of all the P2P optimised servers is clearly labelled on the Avast Secureline VPN app and there is also a dedicated tab that brings all of these servers together.
If there were any doubts at all about the link between AVG Secure VPN and Avast Secureline VPN, one look at the apps clears it all up.
They are, to all intents and purposes, identical in both design and functionality, with just a couple of minor differences.
Android and iOS Apps
You can download the Avast Secureline VPN app from your chosen app store or directly from the Avast website.
The download and installation processes are straightforward, although you will need to have either signed up for a package or registered for their free trial before the app can work.
Both the Android and iOS apps have a similar design which is clear, simple, and easy for even novice users. The Avast Secureline app home screen has a dark blue background with a large green connect button in the centre.
For those who wish to, just one click on this button will connect you to the best server for your location and you can then carry on with your other internet activities.
At the bottom of the page, is a button which lets you access the server list and choose a server in your preferred location, while in the top right of the screen is the cog icon which takes you to the settings menu.
This menu contains links to your subscription details, the customer support service and options to switch the auto-connect feature on and off.
The personal privacy tab is one every user should look at because this is where Avast Secureline tells you it will be harvesting app data usage for third parties.
This is defaulting to on, which is very disappointing, and we would strongly recommend every user switch this function off before using this VPN.
Aside from options to reinstall your VPN profile and rate Avast Secureline VPN, this is the extent of the features on their mobile apps.
To some, this is ideal. The Avast Secureline mobile apps are clean, simple, and user-friendly.
To those who like a few more features and a little more customisability in their VPN apps, these apps leave plenty of room for improvement.
Avast Secureline VPN offers desktop apps for both Windows and Mac devices.
The design of these apps is almost identical to those used by AVG Secure VPN and also very similar to the Avast Secureline VPN mobile apps.
The app can be downloaded from either your preferred app store or the Avast Secureline VPN website and it is simple to download and install. Like the mobile app, it has a dark blue background, but this time with a simple image of a world map watermarked on there too.
At the centre is a large button which will say ‘Off' and be marked red when you first use the app.
In the centre of the page, big letters state, ‘Your Online Privacy is not Protected' and an arrow points to the button with a label saying, ‘Turn on your VPN to encrypt what you do online'.
It really is VPN-101 and if you are a seasoned VPN user, you might find it a little annoying and patronising. But for newcomers, it is no doubt quite helpful so, in many ways, this is quite a canny design choice.
Underneath is a warning that your IP Address is visible to others and then your IP Address is listed.
But click the button and this all changes. The button turns to green and says ‘on', while the statement on the page now reads ‘Your Online Privacy is Protected' and you are further informed that ‘Your connection is encrypted and your location is disguised'.
Underneath the button, your new and original IP Address are listed alongside a timer showing you how long you have been collected. This should also serve as a timely reminder that this is all data Avast Secureline VPN is collecting.
At the bottom of the page, is a round flag and listing which tells you your current connection. If you click on the Change Location button at the bottom of the page, you can choose to connect to another server from the list that appears.
The only other functions on the desktop app can be found to the right of the screen. Here there are two icons, one labelled mobile and the other preferences.
The mobile icon simply gives you a link to a form to get an email that lets you download the Avast Secureline VPN app onto your mobile device. The preferences icon takes you into the settings menu.
Here you will find some general notifications options, options to switch on Avast Secureline VPN automatically (or not to switch it on on trusted networks – which we don't recommend). You can also turn on the kill switch feature, manage your subscription, and download browser extensions too.
It is a straightforward and usable app but the lack of customisation options will again be frustrating to more experienced users.
Other Avast Secureline VPN apps
Avast Secureline VPN doesn't offer apps for Linux, Amazon Fire TV devices, or any other operating system.
As far as we can tell, there is no support even to install this VPN manually, so if you are running a device on a different operating system and want to use Avast Secureline VPN, you are out of luck.
There is also nothing to suggest that any new apps or manual workarounds are in the pipeline either, so unless you use Mac, Windows, iOS, or Android devices, this isn't the VPN for you.
Does Avast Secureline VPN have any browser extensions?
This extension will encrypt your web browsing but it will not protect any other web activity, so it is generally a good idea to opt for the full app rather than just the browser extension.
Does Avast Secureline VPN support VPN routers?
No. There is no manual setup or guidance to set up Avast Secureline VPN on any type of VPN router.
This is a great pity as connecting your router to a VPN allows you to protect every device in your household and would have been a good option for devices that use operating systems not currently supported by Avast Secureline VPN.
Does Avast Secureline VPN have any other features?
The desktop apps come with a kill switch that appears to work reasonably well. This is disabled by default so you will need to enable it before you are protected. But that is about it.
Obviously, Avast itself offers a vast number of additional tools and software options, but none of these are included with your Avast Secure VPN subscription, so you will end up having to pay more for them.
How do the apps compare?
If you are comparing Avast Secureline's VPN's apps to the best VPNs on the market such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN, then frankly, there is no comparison. These VPNs deliver user-friendly apps that are packed with features and look great.
Avast Secureline VPN apps have a simple design and are user-friendly, especially for beginners, but they offer almost nothing in the way of features.
If, however, you want to compare Avast Secureline VPN and AVG Secure VPN, the apps are almost identical. But then you might expect this from two VPNs owned by the same parent company.
As we have mentioned further up this review, Avast Secureline VPN has optimised servers dedicated for online streaming. These servers are:
- UK – Wonderland
- USA – Gotham City
- USA – New York
- USA – Miami
This list includes the two fictional servers which we noted above are almost undoubtedly virtual servers (and which are also used by AVG Secure VPN). But this doesn't stop them from being able to unblock some of the most popular online streaming services.
Does Avast Secureline VPN work with Netflix?
We tested Netflix on all of these servers and had no trouble unblocking US Netflix, on each of the three US-based servers.
The Wonderland server was able to unblock the UK version of Netflix while the German server was a bit patchier but was usually able to unblock both.
If you try and stream Netflix on any of Avast Secureline VPN's other servers, Netflix was always able to recognise that you were using a VPN in our tests and so it generated an error message and didn't work.
Equally, if you want to watch any other Netflix service apart from US and UK Netflix, you are out of luck.
We tried various national services, both with the servers located in the correct country and the streaming-optimised servers but had no joy with any of them.
Does Avast Secureline VPN work with BBC iPlayer?
If you connect to the UK-Wonderland server, you should be able to unblock the BBC iPlayer. It certainly worked in our tests, although we have heard some reports of others having more problems.
Certainly, if you try to connect to the BBC iPlayer through any of the other UK-based servers, you will find it doesn't work. But in our tests, Wonderland was still able to unblock BBC iPlayer.
Does Avast Secureline VPN work with Disney+?
The ability of Avast Secureline VPN to unblock Disney+ was less clear-cut.
It claims to be able to on its streaming-optimised servers and initially, we found that both the Gotham City and Wonderland servers worked well.
But over time, we even experienced issues connecting from these servers, which suggests that Avast needs to do more to keep access to Disney+ going.
If you want to use a VPN to unblock Disney+, our advice is that there are much better VPNs to choose than Avast Secureline VPN.
Does Avast Secureline VPN work with Amazon Prime?
Amazon Prime Video has always been one of the toughest streaming services to unblock and given the issues we had with Disney+, our hopes weren't high for this one.
We were right to be sceptical. Avast Secureline VPN was unable to unblock Amazon Prime Video on any of its servers, whether they were optimised for streaming content or not.
Can Avast Secureline VPN unblock other streaming services?
Some. Those services that make an effort to block VPN services, such as Hulu and HBO Go, are distinctly patchy. We couldn't get either of these to work in our tests although others have reported having more luck.
Obviously, some streaming services don’t try that hard to stop people from using VPNs. Needless to say these work well with all Avast Secureline VPN servers, but that will be the case for just about every VPN.
Price and Plans
Avast Secureline VPN has three packages choices for you to choose from. These are:
- 1 Year – £3.99 a month
- 2 Years – £2.99 a month
- 3 years – £2.99 a month
It is unusual for a VPN not to offer less than one year as a subscription option. (AVG Secure VPN is the only other one we know of). You will also move onto a rolling one-year plan at the end of your initial package.
However, they do have a free 7-day trial available.
This is pretty impressive as it doesn't require you to submit any payment details or personal details to try out. Free trials are not common among VPNs these days, but customers always seem to like them, so this is definitely a big tick for Avast Secureline VPN.
If you only want to use Avast Secureline VPN on a single device, there is also an option to sign up on that basis which takes £1 a month off each package. For us, this seems like a bit of a false economy as almost everyone has more than one internet-enabled device, but the option is there if you like it.
There is a 30-day money-back guarantee available to everyone who signs up, which means you have plenty of time to change your mind without running the risk of losing a penny.
How does the price compare?
Avast Secureline VPN is priced in the mid-range bracket for a VPN which is clearly the area of the market they are targeting with their service.
However, for the quality of service and level of privacy they offer, the price is far too high for us. There are much better VPNs out there that provide more features, more privacy, and a better all-round service and will set you back far less.
The suspicion is that Avast Secureline VPN is trying to play on the Avast name. Their anti-virus tools have long been lauded by experts and users alike, and rightly so.
But they have moved into the VPN market without reaching these same heights which suggest that they are hoping users will just assume they are as good at creating a VPN as they are an anti-virus tool.
But they aren't and for us, and this VPN is priced far higher than is reasonable.
Like its stablemate, AVG Secure VPN, Avast Secureline VPN is a big letdown.
The server selection is small and is likely to include virtual servers that will impact on connection speeds. While it is able to unblock Netflix and some other streaming services, it is not reliable enough for any regular streamer to depend on.
There are some plus points. The encryption is good and the apps available are user-friendly and well-designed. But even these lack features are only available on a limited number of devices.
The clincher for us was the price which, despite the welcome free trial, is way too high for a VPN that offers such a limited service.
Their anti-virus tools remain impressive, but it is very much a case of ‘must do better' for Avast with their VPN.
Have you tried Avast Secureline VPN? I would love to hear your thoughts on the service so drop a comment below.