Avast SecureLine VPN Review
Pros of Avast VPN
Cons of Avast VPN
*- a part of traffic remains unprotected with the default settings
The price policy it offers is the most confusing one in the market.
It also leaks users’ data partially and its mobile apps don’t have a kill switch.
Its free trial version can only be used for 60 days by Windows users.
Avast VPN supports Netflix but not Hulu.
Avast is one of the largest Internet security companies but do its experience and name affect the quality and technological excellence that much?
The answer is they do but not in a way you’d expect.
In this review of Avast VPN, I will show you what flaws are hidden under its developer’s well-known name, tell you everything about the pros and cons of using Avast SecureLine and voice my opinion if this VPN is worth using.
So what does Avast SecureLine have to offer?
- High server speeds;
- Confusing price policy;
- A free trial lasting for 7-60 days. It’s only available after you subscribe. While it is 60 days on Windows, on all the other platforms it’s just 7 days;
- Netflix support.
You can use the quick navigation to jump ahead to the section you want:
- Avast VPN: Features and Opportunities
- Avast SecureLine VPN Benefits
- Avast VPN drawbacks
- Tariff plans and prices
- Information about Avast
- Conclusion and alternatives
Avast VPN: Features and Opportunities
On paper, the fully-functional free version is available for every platform. But in reality, the service cannot be accessed from some regions. Avast VPN withholds its service from citizens of certain countries. Is the reason for it the support of political sanctions? It’s likely so even though it contradicts the principles of freedom on the Internet that we expect from VPN services.
What do we get by installing Avast VPN?
+ 256-bit traffic encryption;
+OpenVPN and IPsec tunneling protocols;
+ 34 available countries (locations within them can be chosen separately);
+servers that allow P2P (torrenting);
+special servers for video streaming for DE, UK, and US;
But at the same time:
- With the default setting, a part of the traffic enters the Net without protection.
- It requires subscribing to get the free trial.
- A user can waste a few dozens of dollars if they don’t know certain aspects of its pricing.
- Kill Switch is only available on desktops.
What makes the lack of a kill switch on mobile devices so dangerous? (The kill switch feature blocks all of your device’s traffic to prevent the disclosure of your location if your connection to a VPN fails). It’s necessary for traffic protection in the case of unexpected problems with the VPN channel and location changes. Without a kill switch, your IP address and other data can get leaked.
Besides, there is no obfuscation of the tunneling protocol to help you bypass VPN blocks (for example, Surfshark does have this feature). There aren’t any VPN connection options at all! It is surprising for the company that developed one of the best antivirus products.
The choice of locations for Netflix is small: only 3 countries are available. Compare it to CyberGhost VPN which has more than 15 countries on its list of servers for streaming.
After the tests, I have the impression that Avast has added a VPN to its products but doesn’t pay a lot of attention to its development.
Avast SecureLine VPN Benefits
- A 60-day free trial plan and different prices for the same thing
- High-speed level (except for servers for streaming)
- Servers in which torrenting is available
- Avast VPN for Netflix
- No IP address leaks and own DNS servers
- Convenient Apps
- Has a kill switch
- Avast doesn't keep logs
1. A 60-day free trial plan and different prices for the same thing
As recently as this spring, Avast VPN offered only a 7-day free trial for desktops and didn’t ask for a credit card. Today, though, despite the official website talking only about 7 days, the downloaded app for Windows provides 60 days of free use. To get them, you have to pre-subscribe:
It means that you can use Avast SecureLine for free but when 60 days run out, a 1-year subscription will be bought automatically. However, Avast promises to remind you about it 7 days in advance:
60 days is definitely enough to learn all about the pros and cons of the provider but you have to remember that your money will be withdrawn if you don’t cancel the subscription.
These conditions, as I’ve said before, are only true for Windows users. On other platforms, Avast is only available free of charge for 7 days.
The weirdest thing about Avast VPN is its prices. They are different for the same services!
To explain: Avast VPN, according to its page on the official website, has 3 types of subscription:
- A 1-year one for all devices for $79.99 (~$6.66 per month)
- A 1-year one for Windows or Mac for $59.99 (~$5 per month)
- A 1-year one for Android or iOS for $19.99 (~$1.66 per month)
But if you install the app first and buy a subscription form it later, the prices of the full-featured version for all devices drop considerably:
As you can see, the prices are almost half as high now! Those aren’t some different subscriptions: the functionality is the same as the one that costs $79.99 on the website. Here, it is only $35.88 per year or $2.99 per month.
At the same time, all the parameters (payment methods and the choice of the subscription duration) on the website and in the app are identical.
But wait, there’s more!
The prices for Android and Mac are also different depending on where you find them:
So, Avast SecureLine VPN offers several different prices for the same thing. Well, you can save a lot of money by using the app for Windows.
Which is what I did: I bought the multi-device subscription from the Windows app:
This subscription bought on Windows worked on all the other OSs.
Important! A 20% tax is added to every price, which isn’t something you’ll see in most other VPNs.
2. High-speed level (except for servers for streaming)
The total speed was quite high in all locations. Moreover, the provider claims that it has servers with a speed rate to 2Gbit/s. I didn’t have an opportunity to test it because there are no configurations or software for a fast server with Linux. But the speed level for Video Streaming is extremely slow:
For some regions in the UK and the US, the speed level was not enough to watch Netflix, Hulu, and other services in high quality.
I noticed that Avast uses some servers with the other VPNs.
For example, a server in the UK in which torrenting is available belongs to the Privax LTD company, a corporate company of the HideMyAss VPN service (HideMyAss VPN actually belongs to Avast):
So, the stress is on them that is why the speed depends not only on Avast VPN but also on the other providers that use the same infrastructure. Well, the speed level is quite high but, if you don’t use servers for unblocking streaming video services.
3. Servers in which torrenting is available
If you use torrent trackers, Avast VPN can be your free VPN for torrenting for up to 60 days (the term of the trial period).
What advantages does Avast VPN have for torrenting?
- high speeds
- torrenting is officially allowed
- special servers for torrenting
Besides the free trial, it makes sense to use the paid plan for the mobile device (if you torrent on it). It will cost you only $19.99 per year.
As for the plans that are put on the website of Avast VPN and allow you to use any device, Windows, or Mac, they are not as lucrative as those of the best VPNs for torrenting.
That’s what a separate tab in Avast SecureLine VPN listing the servers on which P2P/torrenting is allowed looks like:
But it doesn’t mean that these servers can be used only for P2P. They have a high-speed level and are suitable for other tasks except for streaming video.
4. Avast VPN for Netflix
Starting in early 2019, Avast VPN has improved its Netflix support considerably. A German location was added and server speeds increased. Now it is possible to watch Netflix in any quality you want.
Avast SecureLine has servers for Netflix:
Right now, however, only three locations are available: DE, UK, and NL.
Here’s image quality on one of the US servers a year ago:
This problem has been solved:
Another one appeared, however.
Your connection to the VPN server can cut off abruptly right while you’re watching:
During my testing of the locations for streaming, this issue happened roughly once every hour.
Avast SecureLine VPN has improved its ability to unblock geo-restricted Netflix content but it doesn’t have 100% connection stability.
- You can find more paid and free VPN providers for Netflix.
5. No IP address leaks and own DNS servers
I should note that any reliable protection of the IP address is only possible if the traffic is blocked in abnormal situations and when changing a location (with a kill switch function).
Avast VPN only has this function on desktops.
But what about its DNS servers?
This provider has an advantage over many of its rivals: it doesn’t use third-party name servers but has its own ones. Moreover, they are set up in the same locations as the VPN servers (or right inside them).
The following screenshot shows that the IP addresses of the DNS and VPN are almost identical. They are located in the same data center or even on the same server:
Why is it good?
- DNS queries go via the shortest route, which improves speeds.
- Information about the visited addresses (which is precisely what the DNS processes) isn’t passed to remote servers unencrypted.
- No third parties have access to this data.
So, Avast SecureLine VPN reliably protects its users’ IP addresses and DNS queries. But is it 100% safe? Unfortunately, it isn’t. In this subsection of the next chapter, I’ll talk more about my research of Avast VPN’s security and serious issues I found.
6. Convenient Apps
Avast VPN has secure and easy to use apps. It’s quite convenient that you can choose a tariff and pay for it directly from the app. Aside from that, the prices in the app are much lower than those on the website.
My mark is 4 out for 5 for a user-friendly interface. One of the main things that are convenient that you don’t need to press “Connect” every time you change your location. It is enough to choose a VPN server and a connection to it and reconnect to it automatically.
To my mind, the connection is faster than the other providers offer.
During the time tests, there were no problems with the VPN connection. It is a good point because you shouldn’t check it all the time.
7. Has a kill switch
I should mention an improvement that appeared in 2019: a kill switch was implemented on Windows and Mac. Now using Avast VPN for sensitive tasks and torrenting is much safer than before.
This function, though, is turned off by default. It can (and should) be activated in the app’s settings:
My advice is to always use the kill switch. As my tests show, only this feature actually allows using Avast SecureLine safely.
Its official website contains the information that it keeps no logs:
But don’t confide in this provider in solvin all tasks especially in delicate ones. The point is that Avast SecureLinе VPN has double jurisdiction. The United Kingdom and the Czech Republic. Moreover, the UK is a member of the reconnaissance alliance “5 eyes”, that is why there is no guarantee that the users won’t be tracked in some circumstances.
Avast VPN drawbacks
- Leaks unprotected data on Windows
- Poor jurisdiction
- The free trial requires a credit card
- Avast VPN for Hulu
- There are no apps and settings for router and non-standard devices
On the opposite side of its high speeds and server lists for torrenting and streaming, Avast SecureLine VPN has certain flaws. Some of them can influence your choice of a VPN service a lot.
Let’s begin with the main drawback: less-than-full traffic protection on Windows.
1. Leaks unprotected data on Windows
If you are familiar with VPN technology, you know that all the traffic of a device must be encrypted and packed into a channel established between the computer and the VPN server. Various VPN protocols exist for that and every VPN service uses them.
The customer sees what protocol the provider is using and does not even suspect that the software of this provider can intercept and reroute into a channel not the entirety of their traffic. Such a thing is impossible to detect without using special network activity analysis programs.
To check how Avast VPN operates “from within”, I employed special software and was quite surprised by the results.
The easiest way to explain the essence of the issue is with this screencap:
It shows the list of all the outgoing addresses to which my computer transmitted data (addresses 192.168.x.x and 239.255.x.x are not related to the data transmission).
I marked the IP address of a VPN server with green. All of my traffic should go there. But we observe a different picture: only 85% of data packets are transferred there.
I delineated the IP addresses with which data was exchanged outside of a VPN tunnel in red.
And they say that Avast SecureLine VPN has created one of the leading data protection products? For whom is it designed?
What can be done about it?
Luckily, there’s a way to block all the unaccounted-for traffic. All you have to do is turn the kill switch on:
Simple, isn’t it? But it does raise a question: if Avast VPN knows about this problem, then why has nothing been done about it? And if it doesn’t know, then what kind of people develop this product?
If you use Avast VPN, my recommendation to you is to keep the kill switch always on.
2. Poor jurisdiction
It is considered that the Avast Software company that developed Avast SecureLine VPN is set in the Czech Republic. But if we open the official website of the company, we can see the reference to the Avast PLC company located in the United Kingdom:
The point is the Avast company has subsections set in different countries. We are interested only in those that are related to its VPN. They are the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom. In fact, it is double jurisdiction.
From the side of privacy and security, the UK plays an important role. So, this country is a member of the “5 eyes” alliance and can conduct surveillance for each Avast VPN user legislatively.
The Czech Republic also cooperates with this alliance.
I can’t confirm that the company collaborates with the government and can put out your personal data, but the risk of this exists, and I can’t but grab your attention to this point.
On our website of CoolTechZone, you can find the other VPN services with a secure jurisdiction.
3. The free trial requires a credit card
As recently as in the first half of 2019, Avast SecureLine VPN allowed trying it out free of charge and without a bank card on Windows and macOS. But the provider’s policy has changed since and now the free trial is available on all platforms only after you buy a subscription.
If you need a free VPN but you don’t have a credit card you could use online, Avast VPN won’t help you.
Such a way of trying a VPN provider’s services out is not the best. Today, many VPNs offer their free trials without requiring a credit card.
- You can find out more in our recent review of free trial VPNs. It enumerates 5 VPNs available without a card and another 5 that do require one.
4. Avast VPN for Hulu
Not a single one of the provider’s US servers from the Streaming list could help me unblock Hulu.
5. There are no apps and settings for router and non-standard devices
Avast VPN doesn’t offer any apps for the router with DD-WRT support. Moreover, even the manual setting, when you can choose by yourself all the necessary VPN parameters, is not available.
It also refers to not only to routers but also to different devices that have no opportunity to set up apps.
There are no apps for Linux.
So, you can download and set up Avast SecureLine VPN only on Windows, Mac, Android, Android TV, iPhone, iPad.
Tariff plans and prices
As I have mentioned earlier, Avast VPN has an unusual price policy. It is the first VPN I know of that has several different prices for the same services at once.
What can we think of it? Is it an attempt to milk money from customers with maximum efficiency? Entering the website, they see one price while if they use the trial version before buying the VPN, they are going to see another, lower price. Thus, those users who have already spent twice as much, won’t even learn that the price could’ve been lower!
As a customer, I didn’t appreciate such an approach to pricing. That’s the reason why I published a way to buy the very same full-fledged version but cheaper by 1.5 or 2 times.
But even those prices are not exactly cheap. You can find some really cheap VPNs on this site.
Information about Avast
Avast SecureLine VPN was launched in 2013 by Avast PLC. That company had become widely known thanks to its really high-quality professional-grade Avast Antivirus.
Just like many other companies (McAfee, Kaspersky, AVG, etc.) that started with protection from viruses and malicious websites, Avast has added several complementary apps related to Internet security. Among them is the VPN service.
The company is rapidly developing. Within the last two years, its stock value has roughly doubled:
This trend suggests that Avast VPN will continue to develop and there are no reasons to shut down this line of business.
Avast VPN is related to two separate companies:
1. Avast PLC
Address: 110 High Holborn London, WC1V 6JS United Kingdom
2. Avast Software
Address: Enterprise Office Center, Pikrtova 1737/1A, 140 00 Prague 4
Conclusion and alternatives
Do I recommend Avast SecureLine VPN? Both yes and no.
Yes, because it’s the only VPN that has a trial period of 60 days (on Windows only). It has fast speeds, supports watching Netflix in high quality and supports torrenting while its security “hole” is easy to fix and is present only on PC.
No, if you want to access Hulu, can’t use the kill switch, need good functionality on mobile devices and support of many modern platforms. It’s also not suited to be used with alternative VPN clients.
I cannot say that this provider is bad. However, neither is it a great one since it has flaws, some of which do not correspond with the reputation of the company.
One shouldn’t underestimate how Avast treats countries that are under economic sanctions imposed for political reasons. In my opinion, it’s a serious flaw in the company’s policy even if it is caused by the legislation of Avast’s jurisdiction.
Avast SecureLine VPN started out as a relatively crude marketing-oriented product. But as time went on, it became not only popular but also a proficient service (compared to most other VPNs). Here on CoolTechZone.com, we’ll keep testing Avast VPN and regularly updating this review.
Three alternatives to Avast VPN:
- NordVPN – the best VPN service combining one of the largest technical infrastructures with fast speeds, potent functionality, and good prices.
- Surfshark VPN – the best cheap VPN service. For only $1.99 per month, you’ll get every feature of a good VPN and more. It is even capable of bypassing the Great Firewall of China.
- CyberGhost VPN – the best solution for streaming. This VPN has a large choice of locations, high speeds, and low prices.