AVG Secure VPN
AVG is a huge brand, but unfortunately although their VPN service speeds are fast, much of the rest of the service lets it down.
- 7 day free trial
- Great download speeds
- Supports torrenting
- Big name brand
- Apps lacking features
- Registered in the EU
- Server numbers lacking
AVG is best known for its anti-virus software but has become the latest in a long line of tech companies to dip their toes in the VPN market.
AVG and its parent company Avast have owned Hide My Ass VPN since 2016.
The question is, does AVG Secure VPN live up to its older brother? Or does it perhaps even surpass it?
We have been putting AVG Secure VPN through its paces over the past few weeks and in this review, we will reveal what we found.
Speed is one of the most crucial features of any VPN service.
With AVG Secure VPN offering a completely free trial, you would expect speeds to be rather poor.
Surprisingly this isn't the case.
As you'll discover later on, there are some major problems with this service, but speed certainly isn't one of them.
We tested their service from a regular UK residential connection, exactly the same as the type you would be using. Our standard speed without using a VPN was: 61.15 Mbps.
We used their Windows client and connected to a selection of their servers. By downloading a test file, we achieved the following speeds:
- UK – 58.65 Mbps
- Netherlands – 58.76 Mbps
- Switzerland – 56.66 Mbps
- Sweden – 56.61 Mbps
- France – 58.74 Mbps
- New York, US – 58.62 Mbps
- Australia – 57.47 Mbps
The speeds far surpassed many of the competitors in the VPN market and it's one area where AVG Secure VPN certainly excelled.
References to AVG Secure VPN's logging policies are conspicuous by their absence from the official website, which is always a red flag.
Digging deeper, it quickly becomes apparent why this is.
AVG Secure VPN is owned by AVG, which is itself part of Avast.
AVG Secure VPN logs a lot.
The information it retains includes:
- The subnet of your own IP address (this lets them identify your ISP, but not you personally).
- The IP Address you connect to.
- A timestamp of when you connect and disconnect from their service.
- How much data you transmit while connected to their network.
While they don't keep logs of what you do online or your actual IP Address, this is far too much information for any VPN that wants to be credible on user privacy to retain.
It would be quite easy to identify you using this information.
It's very disappointing but this is one of the most intrusive privacy policies of any premium VPN we have tested.
Even at this early stage in the review, we have no choice but to say that if you want a VPN to protect your privacy, don't choose AVG Secure VPN.
AVG Secure VPN allows you to connect up to five different devices at the same time. This is more than enough for most users, but is these days the bare minimum you would come to expect.
While 5 simultaneous connections is on a par with many of the best performing VPNs, newer entrants tend to offer far more. Surfshark has gone as far as to offer unlimited connections and it is not alone in this.
Five connections would be fine if AVG Secure VPN was competing with the very best in other areas of its service. But as it still falls short in a number of areas, we are frankly disappointed.
AVG Secure VPN is owned by Avast, a company which is headquartered in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic is not part of the 14-Eyes surveillance network, which is a good thing.
However, it is in the EU, which means it is subject to their highly intrusive data retention laws.
It is also a close ally of many 14-Eyes countries and has been known to share intelligence data with them in the past.
This means that, while a Czech based VPN is not the worst in the world for privacy, it is a long way from being the best either.
Premium VPNs have set the bar for customer service pretty high in recent times and to be honest, AVG Secure VPN fails to hit the same heights.
The lack of a live chat support service is really disappointing. This is the preferred support method of most VPN users as it gives fast and reliable responses to any query.
But this is just the start of the problems. There is a support request form that allows users to email in questions. But this form is not easy to find and is a standard form for all AVG services which makes it more complicated than it needs to be.
Responses to this service are distinctly patchy too. Some of our requests got fast and accurate answers, some got vague and unhelpful replies, and some got no reply at all.
The FAQ section on their website is extremely basic and while there is a community forum, the vast majority of content on there is user-generated and there is very little input for the AVG team.
It is not that difficult for a VPN to provide a user-friendly customer support service, but AVG Secure VPNs falls way below the level we would expect.
If you are trying to find out about AVG Secure VPN's servers without signing up for their service, good luck with that.
There is no information on their website and their customer support responses tend to tell you to sign up and then click change location to find out. This is pretty poor.
We have signed up and can tell you that AVG Secure VPN has a total of 59 servers located in the following countries:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada x 2, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany x 2, Hong Kong (erroneously listed as China, Hong Kong), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia x 2, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain x 2, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, UK x 3, Ukraine, USA x 16.
Their network covers a reasonable number of countries, although it is rather Europe-focused and coverage of Asia, Africa, and South America is minimal.
More concerning is the low total number of servers.
Most premium VPNs offer these users several thousand servers, with hundreds in popular locations like the USA and the UK.
AVG numbers are pretty weak in comparison and this is likely to impact both the speed and reliability of the service customers get.
Does AVG Secure VPN use virtual servers?
AVG Secure VPN does not specify whether it uses virtual servers or not and this is one of the questions we put to their customer support team that didn't get a response.
Given the low number of servers on offer, we would usually assume that they don't use virtual servers. But as AVG Secure VPN also has a large number of locations, it is a possibility.
If we do ever get a reply to our enquiry, we will update this review. For now, it is impossible to give a definitive answer to this question.
Does AVG Secure VPN work in China?
No. AVG Secure VPN does not work in China and when asked, their customer support staff will explain that this is because of Chinese government regulations and policies.
In truth, lots of premium VPNs do still work in China because they put a great deal of effort into getting around the Chinese regimes efforts to block VPNs.
But AVG Secure VPN has no obfuscated servers and no stealth protocols that allow it to work inside China. There is no indication they have ever tried to work in China and no suggestion that they are going to.
The AVG Secure VPN server list does have one server listed as being in China. But this server is actually in Hong Kong, not China, where internet coverage is completely separate and users face none of the restrictions of those inside Communist China.
Does AVG Secure VPN offer Dedicated IP Addresses?
No. AVG Secure VPN customer support has confirmed that they only offer dynamic IP Addresses.
If you're looking for either a static or dedicated IP address, you'll need to look to another service.
Does AVG Secure VPN offer Double-Hop servers?
No. Some premium VPNs like NordVPN do offer double-hop VPN servers that will redirect your traffic through two servers in different locations for heightened anonymity.
AVG Secure VPN does not offer this feature at all.
Security and Safety
Protocols & Encryption
AVG Secure VPN offers different protocols for each of its customised apps.
If you are using AVG Secure VPN's Windows or Android App, you will be using OpenVPN (UDP). This is the default VPN protocol for most premium providers right now and offers the best combination of speed, security, and reliability.
If you are a macOS device user, you will be using the L2TP/IPSec. This is an older VPN protocol but it is still considered pretty secure.
iOS device users will be using the IKEv2/IPSec protocol.
This is a newer protocol explicitly designed for mobile devices that regularly switch between Wi-Fi and 4G connections. It is the default for most premium VPN's iOS apps.
Generally speaking, these protocols are satisfactory, but what is really lacking from AVG Secure VPN is user choice.
While most VPNs default to these protocols, the majority will also offer users the opportunity to switch to a different protocol if they wish to. But AVG Secure has hard-baked these protocols into their apps and users cannot change the protocol they are using. That is a pity.
On a more positive note, AVG Secure VPNs encryption does use 256-bit AES where available which is the industry standard and generally thought of as being unbreakable.
DNS Leak Testing
In our tests of AVG Secure VPN, we didn't find any DNS leaks. This is encouraging because a DNS leak would potentially allow your ISP to see the websites you are visiting and so compromise your online privacy.
We also tested AVG Secure VPN for IP and WebRTC leaks and found no problems with these either.
It is probably worth noting that AVG Secure VPN recommends that its users disable WebRTC from within your browser settings. This is because it doesn't currently offer a feature to disable WebRTC within its apps as a lot of premium VPNs do.
Have there been any AVG Security breaches?
AVG itself has suffered a number of security lapses over the years. These have resulted in some of its security apps being compromised and user data being exposed.
We haven't been able to confirm any of these online rumours beyond a reasonable doubt so we cannot say categorically that AVG Secure VPN has compromised user safety.
But we are mindful of the old adage that ‘there is no smoke without fire' and we certainly wouldn't be surprised if some of the rumours were true based on our testing and analysis of AVG Security's privacy policies.
Is AVG Secure VPN safe for torrenting?
AVG Secure VPN does permit torrenting and P2P file-sharing on its site and has even created a number of servers that have been optimised for precisely this purpose.
These servers are located in:
- Czech Republic
- UK – London
- USA – Miami
- USA – New York
- USA – Seattle
All of these servers are clearly marked as P2P optimised servers on the AVG Secure VPN server list on their apps.
The presence of optimised servers is welcome and with decent speeds, it could make torrenting useful.
Fans of torrenting and P2P file-sharing also place a premium on privacy and should, therefore, be aware of AVG Secure VPN's logging policies and weak privacy protections.
AVG Secure VPN certainly doesn't stop you from torrenting on their service. But we would advise caution. There are much better VPNs out there if you want to keep your torrenting secure and private.
AVG Secure VPN offers dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices.
Android and Apple Apps
The AVG Secure Android or iOS app will download automatically from the AVG website when you sign up for their service or click on the option for a 7-day free trial.
It opens easily enough and when you log-in with the username and password you signed up with, the app opens up onto a clean and simple homepage.
The design of the Android and iOS apps is pretty much identical. The only real difference we could ascertain was the VPN protocol used by each app.
The app has a black/grey design and when you first open the app it will say in big letters at the top, ‘Your Online Privacy is not protected’.
Underneath this is a switch marked off. This will flash green occasionally and there is an arrow pointing to it with the message ‘Turn on your VPN to encrypt what you do online.’
When you click on the button, AVG Secure VPN will connect to your best location. This will be displayed underneath and listed as your Optimal Location.
The message with the arrow will then change to read ‘Congrats. Everything you do online is now encrypted.’
Underneath the name of the server you are connected to is a link to change location. If you click on this, it will bring up the list of servers. These detail the country and city the server is located in and indicates whether the server is optimised for P2P or streaming.
You can also search these servers by region and if you want to connect to a specific server, you just need a single click on the name to do this.
As far as simple, user-friendly VPN apps go, AVG Secure VPN impresses. But what we have described is literally the extent of the features available and for some users, the absence of any more options might be a worry.
The design of the desktop apps for Windows or macOS devices is broadly the same, although the visuals are tailored for a wider display.
You will find the same basic design and layout on the homepage and the process to change servers works in the same way.
Underneath the details of your server location, you will find two further links. The first is listed as ‘Acceptable use policy'. This will open up a webpage detailing AVG's acceptable use policy for all its apps.
This policy is dated 2018, which is rather old and is a summary of things you aren't allowed to do on their apps, including hacking and any other illegal activities.
It is slightly odd that this is given such prominence on their app as there is no requirement for users to confirm they agree with the policy and most will probably never even look at the policy.
The other link says, ‘How does your VPN work?’.
This sounds really useful but actually just opens up a three-image flow chart which explains what a VPN does in extremely basic terms. On this page, there is a link which says ‘Set your Location' but this only takes you back to the homepage.
We are not entirely sure what the purpose of these two links is. We could find no use for them and feel that the app would be much better adding things like the kill switch feature, a function to change protocol, or anything a bit more useful than this.
The only other feature on the desktop apps is a button that says ‘logged in' which is situated at the top right-hand corner of the app. Click on this and you get the option to log out and nothing else.
Like the AVG Secure VPN mobile apps, the desktop apps are simple, well designed, and user-friendly which is great.
They do the basics well, but the links at the bottom are a waste of time and effort and the lack of any other features is definitely a draw-back.
Other AVG Secure VPN apps
There are no other AVG Secure VPN apps available. It does not offer apps for Linux or Amazon Fire TV devices or any other operating systems.
The absence of apps for these devices is not that unusual, but normally a VPN would provide detailed manual workarounds to allow users of these devices to use their service.
For some reason, AVG Secure VPN has no such workarounds on its websites and our enquiries about these or whether more apps were under development received no response from their customer support team.
This leads us to the inevitable conclusion that AVG Secure VPN has no plans to introduce either new apps or manual workarounds for users of any other devices or operating system. So, if you want to use their VPN on these devices, you are out of luck.
Does AVG Secure VPN have any browser extensions?
No. As well as limited apps, there are also no browser extensions available for either Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge, or Opera.
If you want a VPN that you can use in your browsers or any others, you will need to choose a different one.
Does APG Secure VPN support VPN routers?
Again, sadly the answer is no.
Setting up a VPN on a Wi-Fi router is a great way to protect all of the devices in your home but it often does require a manual set-up. Unless of course, you go with a dedicated VPN router like an Invizbox 2, for example.
Unfortunately, AVG Secure VPN offers no such manual setups for any router or any other device. This means you will need to be technically competent to set it up.
Do the AVG Secure VPN apps have any other features?
No. They are simple and basic apps that look pretty smart and are easy to use.
But the functions and features they offer are minimal and there is nothing for more experienced VPN users to play around with.
How do the apps compare?
As basic, user-friendly apps, the AVG Secure VPN apps perform fine.
But these days, most premium VPNs have relatively simple apps that let those users who want to connect to their chosen server and then get on with other things.
These apps also manage to incorporate various other features that you can use or not as you see fit.
The absence of anything like this from the AVG Secure VPN apps means that while they are fine for beginners, most other users will feel there is something missing.
We have already discussed AVG Secure VPNs optimised servers for P2P downloads but there are also a number of optimised servers for streaming too. These are located in:
- UK – Wonderland
- USA – Gotham City
- USA – New York
- USA – Miami
You have probably noticed a couple of fictitious locations in that list.
These servers have been added to help AVG Secure VPN users access specific streaming services and, as you will see below, they can have the desired effect.
Does AVG Secure VPN work with Netflix?
AVG Secure VPN used to have a very patchy ability to unblock Netflix. But the introduction of its two new fictitious server locations has improved their performance.
If you want to unblock US Netflix using AVG Secure VPN, you can do so using their Gotham City server.
In our tests, it worked most of the times and while speeds were not always super-impressive, we generally managed to stream the content we wanted.
The UK-based Wonderland server should also be able to unblock UK Netflix too. We found its performance a little patchier but it still did the job more often than not.
If you want to unblock Netflix from other countries, AVG Secure VPN is not the VPN for you.
We tested other catalogues at random on their other servers and found that, while we got lucky once or twice, generally speaking, all other Netflix servers were blocked.
Does AVG Secure VPN work with BBC iPlayer?
The UK-based Wonderland server appears to have been set up with the BBC iPlayer in mind more than UK Netflix.
It performed very well with the BBC iPlayer and we had no trouble unblocking and watching content on the BBC iPlayer from anywhere.
Again, speeds were sometimes a problem but accessing the iPlayer itself was never an issue.
Does AVG Secure VPN work with Disney+?
Again, we found AVG Secure VPNs ability to unblock Disney+ hit and miss. The Gotham City and Wonderland servers are the ones to try and we did have success at times.
But we certainly wouldn't recommend that you rely on AVG Secure VPN to access Disney+.
If that is what you want from your VPN, there are much better and more reliable VPNs on the market that you can use.
Does AVG Secure VPN work with Amazon Prime?
No. We were unable to unblock Amazon Prime with any of the AVG Secure VPN servers.
Their customer support has seemingly confirmed this by telling users that Amazon Prime is one of those streaming services that block VPNs and the issue lies with them.
Netflix and BBC iPlayer also take steps to try and block VPN users but AVG Secure VPN manages to access them.
Their inability to unblock Amazon Prime is far more as a result of them not making an effort to do so than it not being possible.
Can AVG Secure VPN unblock other streaming services?
The optimized streaming servers on AVG Secure VPN are only based in the UK, the USA, and Germany.
If you want to unblock other streaming services in these countries, it is possible.
However, in our tests, the performance was mixed and there are other VPNs that are far more consistent and reliable at unblocking streaming services.
If you want to unblock streaming services from other countries, and AVG Secure VPN has a server in that country, it might be possible. But if that streaming service makes any effort to block VPNs, it is unlikely AVG Secure VPN will work.
Price and Plans
AVG Secure VPN offers three simple packages for users to choose from. The minimum sign-up period is one year, which is a bit unusual.
More common is the lower prices that are on offer if you sign up for longer.
Their current packages are:
- 1 Year – £3.99 a month
- 2 Years – £2.99 a month
- 3 years – £2.99 a month
There is a 30-day money-back guarantee available to all users. This means that you can get a full refund within 30-days of signing up for AVG Secure VPN if you are not completely satisfied with their service.
AVG Secure VPN also offers a 7-day free trial.
This is available with all of its apps and while you need to provide contact details, there is no requirement to enter any credit card details. This is a huge advantage.
Free trials are a rare thing with any VPN these days and we highly recommend taking advantage of it before committing any money to their service.
You can pay for AVG Secure VPN using Visa, Mastercard or American Express Credit Cards.
PayPal payments are also accepted but sadly, there are no online payment options available.
Privacy-conscious users will already be wary of AVG Secure VPN and the absence of a Bitcoin payment option is likely to put them off more.
How does the price compare?
AVG Secure VPN's prices are fairly low but we would have expected a much bigger discount for the 3-year plan.
The price on offer gives no incentive to sign up for more than two years and we wouldn't advise any readers to do so.
If the price is the decisive factor in a VPN, then AVG will be an attractive proposition. But the truth is that for similar money you can get a far better VPN that offers better security, privacy and speeds.
AVG Secure VPN is really something of a disappointment.
While we quite liked its user-friendly and simple apps, its ability to unblock Netflix and BBC iPlayer, and low prices are always an attraction, it really doesn't have much else going for it.
Its privacy protections are extremely poor. AVG Secure VPN logs far more data than any premium VPN should and this alone is a reason most people should choose a different provider.
While security levels and encryption are fine, the lack of any flexibility over protocols is a let-down.
The server network is sparse and while server locations are adequate, the lack of numbers really impacts the service they can offer.
Speeds are reasonable but the lack of any obvious features or benefits to entice you away from more established VPNs is glaring.
AVG is a big name in the anti-virus sector and is clearly hoping that will translate into the VPN market too.
But their VPN is way below the standard we would expect and our advice to all readers, no matter what your priority, is that there are far better VPNs out there than this, so don't waste your money.