Avast SecureLine VPN Review (2020) – Fast, but keeps logs
Avast is mostly known for their antivirus software. This software is free and being used by over 400 million people worldwide. Aside from antivirus, Avast also offers a VPN service: Avast SecureLine VPN. Whereas, at first, Avast only focused on protecting devices from malware and cybercrime, the company now also aims to encrypt and protect users’ data traffic.
Avast is one of the biggest security companies in the world. Their headquarters are in Prague, the Czech Republic. Their VPN is fast and has simple and intuitive software. It works with American Netflix and allows you to download torrents safely. Sadly, their server network is very small and there are a lot of problems when it comes to security and privacy. We’ll be discussing all of these factors and more in this review.
- Simultaneous connections: 5
- Operating systems: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
- Protocols: OpenVPN, IPsec, IKEv2
- Logging policy: Keeps logs
- Servers: 55 servers in 34 countries
- Price: $2,99 a month
- Money-back guarantee: 30 days
Speed – How fast is Avast SecureLine VPN?
A fast VPN ensures your internet speed doesn’t drop dramatically. After all, you don’t want to have to wait for Netflix to load just because you’re using a VPN connection. We tested Avast SecureLine’s speed, so you know what to expect of this VPN.
Speedtest results Avast SecureLine VPN
To determine the factual speeds of Avast SecureLine, we tested this VPN with Speedtest.net. Below, you’ll see the results of our internet connection while testing Avast SecureLine. These tests have been conducted from The Netherlands and take both local and American Avast SecureLine servers into account. By means of a blank test, we’ve also tested our internet speed without a VPN.
Speed without a VPN (Speedtest.net):
These are the speed test results of our own connection without a VPN. These results will be used to compare the speed of the Avast SecureLine servers.
Speed with a local server (Speedtest.net):
Our connection reached the above speeds when we were connected with a local (in this case Dutch) Avast SecureLine VPN server. According to Avast SecureLine’s software, this was the most optimal server for us to use. Although the ping has risen compared to our blank test, both the download and upload speed stayed approximately the same. This is a very good result. Avast SecureLine’s local server barely affects our internet speed.
Speed with a USA server (Speedtest.net):
The speed tests results of an American Avast SecureLine server tell a different story. It isn’t unusual for your internet speed to slow if you use a VPN server that’s located far from your actual location. After all, your data will have to be rerouted all that way. Even so, the ping has significantly increased in this case. The download speed has dropped to less than half of what we had at first. Our upload speed did remain stable. While these results aren’t awful, they aren’t great, either.
Speed during daily use
Speed test results can be useful, but it’s more important to see how a VPN’s speed affects the user experience. That’s why we tried out Avast SecureLine for an extended period .
While browsing, we didn’t experience any problems. Web pages loaded fast and without any issues. Streaming, in most cases, went very smoothly as well. Spotify worked without any delays and YouTube, too, barely needed to load videos. Watching the American version of Netflix also worked, although videos did need some time to load.
Downloading was reasonably easy when using the specialized P2P servers provided by Avast. Files from emails were downloaded in the blink of an eye. You can also safely download torrents with this VPN. While our local server didn’t give us access to The Pirate Bay, we were able to download quite quickly with an American server. During online gaming, we barely noticed a difference compared to our usual internet experience either.
Conclusion speed Avast SecureLine VPN
- Avast SecureLine VPN can reach very decent speeds.
- Up and download speeds were barely affected when we used a local server.
- Avast SecureLine’s USA servers were noticeably slower (in Europe) than our local servers.
- We noticed very little difference in speed during browsing, downloading, gaming, and streaming, even though it did take longer for Netflix to load.
Safety – How secure is Avast SecureLine VPN?
In general, one could say that a safe VPN is a good VPN. A lot of people use a VPN to protect their online safety and privacy, after all. That’s why we closely study the security of all providers we test. Among other things, we’ll be looking at Avast SecureLine’s protocols as well as their logging policy.
Avast SecureLine VPN uses strong AES 256 bit encryption. Aside from that, this provider had different protocols, including OpenVPN, IPsec, and IKEv2. The protocol that will be used for your VPN connection depends on your operating system:
|Operating system||Used protocol|
Something to keep in mind when you use Avast SecureLine VPN on Mac is that IPsec isn’t used in combination with L2TP, as is normally the case. The combination of these two protocols makes the system much safer. However, IPsec is responsible for encryption, meaning that, with Avast SecureLine for Mac, at least your connection will be coded. Even so, this is something you might want to take into consideration when choosing a VPN.
Logging and privacy
Avast promises never to save your complete IP address, DNS requests, or activity logs. Even so, there is plenty of other data that’s actively logged. First of all, Avast needs your information to be able to create an account. Think of your email address, a user name, password, and payment method. Avast will save even more information about you when you use their SecureLine service. This includes:
- Time stamps of your connection
- Your IP address subnet (which is almost your entire IP, save for the last digits)
- The IP address of the VPN server you use
- The amount of data sent through the connection
This information can be very sensitive. While Avast doesn’t log your full IP address, it does know a huge part of that address. Just the last digits will be anonymized. This means they roughly know where you are. All data mentioned above will be saved for thirty days. Information about your operating system, the VPN software version you’re using, as well as options you adjust within that software (such as activating the kill switch) will be logged and saved for up to two years.
Moreover, Avast works together with third parties. Specifically when it comes to iOS and Android, this might be problematic. SecureLine collects information on those operating systems, which is then shared with Google Firebase Analytics (anonymized), Google Fabric Crashlytics (not personally identifiable), and AppsFlyer Analytics (for following marketing campaigns).
Avast sold personal user data
While Avast SecureLine VPN doesn’t work with the same privacy statement as the remainder of Avast’s million dollar company, it’s still worth checking out how Avast deals with the privacy of its users. One subsidiary of Avast was recently caught selling browser history data of free Avast antivirus users to other parties. While this information wasn’t from Avast VPN users, this discovery is worrying. It doesn’t bode well for the company’s sense of privacy and security.
Avast SecureLine has a built-in kill switch. To activate it, first click “Menu” in the VPN’s dashboard and then choose “Settings”. Click the tab “Network security” and then the empty box in front of “Activate Kill Switch” to turn on this option. A kill switch will interrupt your internet connection if your VPN gets disconnected. This way, you’ll never accidentally leak personal or sensitive information online.
What information does Avast SecureLine VPN need?
If you create an account with Avast SecureLine, you’ll have to share several pieces of information with them. You’ll also be assigned multiple ID tags, that’ll be attached to your account. This includes:
- Email (for communication and invoices)
- User name
- Licence key (to activate your subscription)
- The end date of your subscription
- Information about trial periods
The data mentioned above will be saved for as long as you use the service. In many cases, this is to be able to make the service function as it should. You could use an anonymized email address and user name to protect your privacy up to a certain degree.
Conclusion safety Avast SecureLine VPN
- Avast SecureLine VPN uses the following protocols: OpenVPN (UDP), IPSec and IKEv2, depending on the operating system you’re using.
- Avast’s logging policy is problematic: they log part of your IP alongside other information.
- This VPN doesn’t log users’ browser activity or DNS requests.
- Browser data of free Avast users has been sold to other parties in the past.
- Avast SecureLine has a built-in kill switch.
- If you want to make an Avast SecureLine account, you need to share your email address and a username.
Usability – How user-friendly is Avast SecureLine VPN?
In order for people to successfully use a VPN, it has to be user-friendly. In this section we’ll be looking at different factors to determine the usability of Avast SecureLine, including its website, installation, software, and overall support.
The Avast SecureLine VPN website
Avast SecureLine VPN doesn’t have a separate website. Instead, there’s an informative one-pager about SecureLine on Avast’s general website. All info is in one place, but sadly this information is very limited.
The page is very organised and clear. You’ll find explanations about the different functions of the VPN, its different servers, prices, and extra options. Every section has a small arrow you can click to read more detailed information. Unfortunately, even this detailed section only consists of a couple of sentences. While the website looks very organized, the different aspects of the VPN aren’t explained as well as we would’ve liked.
Installing Avast SecureLine VPN
Installing Avast SecureLine is easy. We installed the software on our Windows computer, but there are options for Android, iOS, and Mac as well. The download button on the website will change depending on which OS you use to access the page. If you need a little help installing Avast Secureline, you can follow these steps:
- Click “Download for PC” on the official Avast SecureLine web page. A file will automatically be downloaded.
- Click on the download and then click “Run”.
- Choose your preferred language and click “OK”.
- Follow the steps and click on “Install”. Wait for the program to be installed.
- Click “Finish”. The software will open automatically and can be used straight away.
Creating an account to use Avast SecureLine with is just as easy. You can do this in one of two ways. Firstly, you can instantly get a subscription. In this case, you’ll be able to make an Avast account, which you can use to log in. The other option is to use the free seven day trial period before committing to the service.
Avast SecureLine VPN’s appearance and ease of use
Avast SecureLine’s software is very simple and intuitive. As is the case with most other providers, you’ll be working with a dashboard containing a big ‘ON’ button. If you click this button without picking a location first, you’ll automatically be connected to the most optimal (usually the closest) server. If you wish to change the language of the software, go to “Menu” and click “Settings”.
The dashboard shows your IP address, the IP of the VPN server you’re using, and the amount of time you’ve been connected to that server so far. You can adjust the location by clicking “Change location”. This will take you to the server list.
The software shows quite a lot of popups as it’s connecting. Fortunately, you can easily turn those off by going to “Menu” and changing the settings. There, you can also activate the kill switch (when you go to “Network security”) and download the browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and Avast Secure Browser (when you go to “Browser integration”).
Avast SecureLine’s software works as it should. Even so, it has a couple of drawbacks. Our biggest grief was the lack of options offered by the software. This doesn’t have to be a problem for a beginning user, but could prove inconvenient for the more experienced VPN user.
Pricing and methods of payment
Avast SecureLine VPN has an unusual pricing system compared to other providers. Most VPNs, such as ExpressVPN and Surfshark, offer a lower monthly price if you pick a longer subscription (for example a yearly subscription instead of a monthly one). Avast SecureLine, however, has fixed prices. These prices are only dependent on the number and kind of devices you wish to protect.
If you want to use the VPN on PC or Mac, this’ll cost you respectively $69,99 a year ($5,83/month) or $59,99 a year ($5,00/month). Do you want the VPN for Android or iPhone/iPad? Then it’ll be just $19,99 a year ($1,67/month). If you want to protect multiple different devices at once, you can get a subscription for $89,99 a year ($7,50/month). This final subscription supports both smartphone and desktop and is available for multiple devices, allowing for up to five simultaneous connections. The price of this subscription is comparable (although a little more expensive than) an ExpressVPN subscription. In other words: this is far from the cheapest VPN on the current market.
Avast SecureLine’s subscriptions have a 30 days money-back guarantee. Moreover, there’s a weeklong trial period, so you can test out the service before committing to a yearly subscription.
You can pay for your subscription in different ways:
- Credit card (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and more)
- Direct bank transfer
- Local payment options
This means there is no completely anonymous way to pay, such as with Bitcoin. On the plus side, there are country-specific payment options, such as iDeal in The Netherlands.
Avast SecureLine’s customer service is only available in English and not accessible when you’ve got a free account. You might be able to find an answer to your questions in the Avast SecureLine knowledge database, but if you really run into trouble, you’ll need a paid account in order to get help.
When you’re a free user and attempt to contact customer support, you’ll be pointed right back to the database and the Avast Forum, where other users might be able to help you. Apart from that, however, we were given no help and no way to contact an Avast SecureLine employee via live chat or email.
In the end, we couldn’t ask our questions to Avast’s customer service. This is odd: there apparently is no way to use support when you’re a free user.
Conclusion usability Avast SecureLine VPN
- Avast SecureLine’s website is a one pager that’s clear, but not very informative.
- Installing the Avast SecureLine software is easy and intuitive.
- The software is easy to work with, but doesn’t offer many options.
- The prices for a full Avast SecureLine subscription are very high.
- Avast SecureLine offers different payment methods, including PayPal and credit card.
- Avast SecureLine has a 30 day money-back guarantee.
- This VPN has an FAQ section (the knowledge database) and a forum. Still, customer support (via email and live chat) is only available for paying customers.
Server network Avast SecureLine
Avast SecureLine’s server network includes 55 servers in 34 countries. Avast SecureLine offers specialised P2P servers as well as servers for streaming. This section will tell you more about Avast SecureLine’s servers and server locations.
Number of servers and locations
Avast SecureLine doesn’t have a gigantic server network with 34 countries and 55 servers. It looks especially small compared to the thousands of servers offered by, for example, CyberGhost and NordVPN. Even so, Avast SecureLine has several useful options. For example, the software will automatically determine which server is your optimal location, so you can use it to ensure you’ve got the fastest connection.
Here’s an overview of all server locations currently available with Avast SecureLine VPN:
- Australia (Melbourne)
- Austria (Vienna)
- Belgium (Brussels)
- Brazil (São Paulo)
- Canada (Montreal, Toronto)
- China (Hong Kong)
- Czech Republic (Prague)
- Denmark (Copenhagen)
- Finland (Helsinki)
- France (Paris)
- Germany (Berlin, Frankfurt)
- Hungary (Budapest)
- Israel (Petach Tikwa)
- Italy (Milan)
- Japan (Tokyo)
- Luxemburg (Luxemburg)
- Malaysia (Johor Bahru)
- Mexico (Mexico City)
- The Netherlands (Amsterdam)
- New-Zealand (Auckland)
- Norway (Oslo)
- Poland (Warsaw)
- Portugal (Leiria)
- Russia (Moscow, Saint Petersburg)
- Singapore (Singapore)
- South Africa (Johannesburg)
- South Korea (Seoul)
- Spain (Barcelona, Madrid)
- Sweden (Stockholm)
- Switzerland (Zurich)
- Taiwan (Taipei)
- Turkey (Istanbul)
- United Kingdom (Glasgow, London, Wonderland)
- United States (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Gotham City, Honolulu, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC)
As you have already noticed, Avast SecureLine offers a couple of unusual locations. Wonderland, in the United Kingdom, and Gotham City, in the United States, are fictive locations that appear in Alice in Wonderland and the Batman comics. If you pick one of those locations, you’ll see the following:
Avast claims that your location, to others online, will be “Gotham City, USA”. Of course, this place doesn’t actually exist. Instead, you’ll get an IP address in New York (and one in London if you choose Wonderland). To strangers online, it’ll seem as if you’re in one of these cities, instead of the fictional ones.
|Purpose:||Available server locations:|
|P2P traffic||Germany (Frankfurt), France, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, United Kingdom (Londen), United States (Miami, New York, Seattle)|
|Streaming||Germany (Frankfurt), United Kingdom (Wonderland), United States (Gotham City, Miami, New York)|
Dedicated IP address
At this moment, it isn’t possible to request a dedicated IP address with Avast SecureLine.
Conclusion server network Avast SecureLine
- Avast SecureLine has a small server network with 55 servers in 34 countries.
- They offer special servers for streaming and downloading.
- Two fictive servers, Gotham City and Wonderland, also are part of the server network.
- It isn’t possible to request a dedicated IP address with Avast SecureLine.
Avast SecureLine’s options
Just like many other VPNs, Avast SecureLine offers multiple browser extensions. Moreover, they’ve got a kill switch and some options that make working with the VPN much easier. For example, you could have the VPN connect automatically the moment you start op your device, as soon as there’s an internet connection available. Most decent VPNs have such options, which doesn’t make Avast SecureLine very unique. A definite plus of Secureline, however, is that it works with American Netflix and for downloading torrents.
Avast SecureLine VPN and Netflix
Avast SecureLine offers special streaming servers. With these, you can watch the American version of Netflix. Any other local versions of Netflix don’t appear to be available at the moment of testing. Using a French server to get access to the French version of Netflix, therefore, might not (always) give you access to the platform.
Fortunately, streaming servers in the US, Germany and the UK do allow you to unblock and watch online streaming content. It’s also possible to watch BBC iPlayer, for example. We tested the American Netflix with the Gotham City (New York) server, and this worked perfectly. At times, loading movies took a little longer than we were used to, but this was mainly due to the speed reduction that came with using American servers while we’re stationed in Europe.
Avast SecureLine VPN and torrents
Avast SecureLine allows you to safely download torrents. The VPN offers special servers for P2P data. These servers are available in Germany, France, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom and the United States. While some servers might not give you access to The Pirate Bay (for example, the Dutch server), they work very well otherwise.
Conclusions – Our experience with Avast SecureLine VPN
|Very fast local servers||Saves connection logs and part of your IP address|
|Safe protocols (but be careful when using IPsec on Mac)||Customer support only available for paying customers|
|Intuitive software||Small server network|
|Easy to install||Avast has had privacy scandals in the past|
|Special P2P and streaming servers||Streaming can be slow at times|
|Gives access to American Netflix||Relatively expensive|
|30 days money-back guarantee|
|Cheap subscription for smartphone|
Avast SecureLine VPN is a fast VPN that leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to safety. They have a small server network with just 55 servers and only offer client support to paying customers. Moreover, their subscriptions are relatively expensive if you want to use the VPN on more than one device at a time.
With its excellent speed test results, specifically when using local servers, and the specialized P2P and streaming services, Avast SecureLine also has its strong suits. The software is easy to use and their encryption technology is relatively safe. This, however, brings us to our most serious issue with this VPN: their logging policy.
Avast SecureLine keeps logs of their customers. They openly admit that their users will never be completely anonymous. Among other things, Avast SecureLine keeps connection logs and even (parts of) user IP addresses. Recently, it came to light that the browser history of a hundred million Avast antivirus users has been sold to third parties, which is very worrying. Due to these privacy and safety issues, we don’t recommend Avast SecureLine if you want a VPN to browse the internet anonymously. Instead, it’s better to go for a more private, better encrypted VPN such as ExpressVPN or PIA.