Avast SecureLine VPN Review
Avast SecureLine VPN is but one of Avast's many security products. As VPNs go, it's pretty decent as it gets you into Netflix and uses good encryption, but for the price you can get better. Check out our full review for the details on why we recommend going elsewhere.
Avast SecureLine VPN is part of a suite of security features offered by this award-winning cybersecurity company. Its fact sheet says it’s based in the Czech Republic, but has offices in 13 countries and 435 million monthly users, which tells you how big the company is compared to most VPN providers with one office in Basel or Berlin.
If you only want the VPN from the range of products offered by Avast, be prepared to fend off many attempts to upsell you on its other security features. This can be annoying at first, until you discover that it can be disabled from the client interface, so don’t let it deter you from giving Avast a seven-day free trial.
It’s a good VPN, except that it’s pricey for the limited features it contains. It does the basics well. It gets into Netflix, doesn’t have obvious security problems, has a decent server spread and mostly good speeds. However, you can do as well elsewhere for less money. See our VyprVPN review, for one example.
On the other hand, if you want a VPN as part of a bigger security package, Avast is a good option and likely to be more economical than buying everything separately. Even then, it won’t give you the same options for use on multiple devices with speed, security, and good technical configurability that something such as Hide.me offers (see our Hide.me review).
- Gets into Netflix
- Decent speeds
- Good server spread
- User-friendly interface
- No DNS leaks
- No split tunneling
- No choice of encryption protocols
- Limited range of devices supported
- Customer support is a paid extra
With Avast’s basic VPN package, you get a limited range of features that doesn’t include a choice of encryption protocols or customer support beyond the FAQ. The server speeds are often good, but there are few frills. Its website makes much of its open source software, as if that were an unusual feature to find in a VPN.
One thing we like about the features on offer is that none of them are cosmetic. They all serve a useful function, such as the ability to remember trusted networks and disable the VPN automatically or the ease of disabling adverts from the company for add-on services.
It advertises itself as “Mac-approved,” though we found no further information on its website about what that means. It has 54 servers in 32 countries, the geographic spread is good, and it gets into U.S. Netflix, but not BBC iPlayer. See our best VPN for BBC iPlayer review, if that is what you need.
Avast has won a lot of consumer awards from the likes of Amazon, PC Magazine and CNET, and, if you pay for the full range of security features, it does provide good all-around security against everything from ransomware and viruses to hackers altering the file structure in your computer.
Confining ourselves to features most in demand by VPN users, in addition to the basics, it has a killswitch to disconnect your internet if the VPN connection fails, ensuring that no one sees your IP address while you’re unprotected. It has few other settings, however, such as the choice of encryption protocols you find on StrongVPN (see our StrongVPN review).
It doesn’t offer split tunneling, either, which is a feature that allows you to select which apps go through the VPN. This can help maximize the speed of your internet connection by ensuring your printer is not routed through a server on a different continent.
See our ExpressVPN review for a provider that has split tunneling.
|Plan||Windows/Mac||Android/iOS||Ultimate (PC only)|
$ 59 99yearly
$ 109 992 years
$ 159 993 years
$ 2 99monthly
$ 19 99yearly
$ 119 99yearly
$ 219 992 years
$ 319 993 years
|Bandwidth||Unlimited GB||Unlimited GB||Unlimited GB|
Avast has multiple price structures on its overly-complicated website, representing different bundles of features. We determined that you can buy the basic VPN for use on a single type of operating system for $59.99 or add an extra OS for more money. A desktop and a mobile device will cost you $79.98, according to one version of the payment page.
Two desktop devices, one for a Mac and one for a PC, will come to $99.98. It’s one of the pricier VPN options on the market, roughly the same price as VyprVPN for a computer and phone, but without the range of encryption protocols or superior knowledgebase and customer support.
VyprVPN and ExpressVPN are more expensive than most because they’re excellent VPN services, but many cheaper services provide a better all-around package than Avast’s basic VPN package, depending on your needs. Read our PerfectPrivacy review for a service that offers better configurability and customer support with similar speeds.
Some of what these other providers offer is available from Avast, if you pay more money for various add-ons, but that brings the price of your VPN well above the market average, so it won’t be the best value option for anyone, unless they only need it on one or two devices and like its undeniable user-friendliness.
If you’re on a Windows machine, you can get everything bundled together into an Ultimate package for $119.99 which includes the ransomware shield, an antivirus, a firewall and a range of other security functions, which may convince you that it’s worth the extra $40 a year.
If you want to try out these features, most of them are available on the seven-day trial or the 30-day, money-back option. Should you decide to upgrade, you can pay by credit or debit card or PayPal. It doesn’t accommodate bitcoin users, let alone cash.
See our Mullvad review for a service with a cash option for security-conscious users.
The installation process for Avast is more elaborate than it is for most VPNs. It starts with downloading the app and double clicking on the icon, then you’re given a series of options for other services you can install on your computer. These are free on the seven-day trial, but they are paid extras after that period.
We had trouble connecting from a public network in our local cafe. It said the internet connection appeared to be offline, though we had no trouble logging into other internet accounts. Once we were on a private network, everything went smoothly, but it’s hard to keep track of all the incremental features you’re invited to install.
These include virus protection, which alerts you every time it updates with a slide-out message that you have to dismiss manually, as well as notifications telling you that you haven’t yet enabled the ransomware shield. Those constant notifications can be annoying, if you don’t remember to disable them.
The VPN is accessed from the padlock icon, which generates a dropdown menu where you can choose to view the main client. The client takes up a lot of space on your screen, considering how little information it contains. It tells you your real and pretend IP addresses and how long you’ve been connected.
If you click the “change location” button, it brings up the server list. There’s a choice of servers in the U.K. and the U.S. You should choose the “Gotham City” server if you’re connecting to Netflix or any other geoblocked streaming service. To compare it to other VPNs that get you into Netflix read our article on how to beat the Netflix VPN ban.
One of Avast’s UK servers is set up for P2P torrenting, but it doesn’t have a server that gets into the BBC iPlayer. Most VPNs can’t crack the BBC, and the list of those that can is changing constantly. Check out our recent BolehVPN review to read about a VPN service that does sometimes allow you to watch the iPlayer.
Changing servers on the Avast interface is as simple as double clicking on the one you want. There’s almost no hang time before the new connection is established, which is one of the nicest features of Avast SecureLine VPN. It will tell you on the interface which is the optimal server for you to connect to based on your location.
We had no problem using the killswitch and didn’t experience the kind of frequent disconnections we did with Shellfire, as you can read in our Shellfire review. The killswitch is found by clicking the settings wheel in the top right of the client, then clicking “network security.”
There’s a clear one-sentence explanation of what the killswitch does, which makes for a contrast with the easy-to-miss killswitch that some services offer. Here, you can also program Avast to flag certain networks as safe, so they don’t require the VPN to connect, or program it to start automatically when you turn on your device.
Avast works on Windows 7 and later, with certain restrictions, which you can read about in its FAQ. It works on Mac OS X 10.9.x (Mavericks) and later. You can also install it on your Android or iOS phone, but it doesn’t run on any other mobile operating systems or Linux, as far as we could determine.
You can run it on five devices simultaneously if they use the same platform. If you purchased a license for iOS, it’s only valid on iOS devices, which diminishes the value of five simultaneous connections and is a restriction we haven’t seen from other VPN providers. For an example of a more generous simultaneous connection policy, see our NordVPN review.
Avast has 54 servers in 32 countries and, unusually, those servers are not too concentrated in Europe. It covers quite a few locations that are not always covered by VPN providers, such as South Korea, Israel and New Zealand. It has two U.K. servers and nine U.S. servers, one of which is set up specifically for streaming.
You can switch servers without having to disconnect first. None of the servers we tested failed to connect, as can sometimes happen with providers that offer a lot of unusual locations. Our GooseVPN review describes a recent example, though it’s a good VPN in most respects, and also has a functioning server in Israel.
|Ireland (Unprotected):||29 ms||100 Mbps||24.2 Mbps|
|Luxembourg:||56 ms||79.5 Mbps||21.6 Mbps|
|Hong Kong:||607 ms||8.78 Mbps||18.9 Mbps|
|UK:||170 ms||12.0 Mbps||21.7 Mbps|
|U.S.:||204 ms||60.8 Mbps||22.9 Mbps|
|Brazil:||489 ms||46.1 Mbps||11.5 Mbps|
|Sweden:||101 ms||75.6 Mbps||22.7 Mbps|
Avast’s server speeds were excellent in mainland Europe, usually around 75 percent of the unprotected speed, but they took a nosedive when we went further afield. In East Asia, the download speed was closer to 10 percent of the unprotected speed. Strangely, this was also the case in the UK. Upload speeds were more consistent everywhere.
Avast’s Chinese server is in Hong Kong. VPNs are illegal in China, but essential for doing business and their existence is overlooked by the authorities. This was the speed we recorded on its Hong Kong server when we connected from Ireland:
Avast departs from the convention among VPN providers of calling their security “military grade,” opting instead for “bank grade,” as you’ll see in the FAQ on encryption. It uses AES 256-bit encryption in conjunction with OpenSSL and certificate authentication.
OpenSSL is an open source cryptography library, which is used to verify the legitimacy of website certificates. The well-known security vulnerabilities with early versions of OpenSSL, due to the “heartbleed” bug, have been fixed in the latest version.
Avast doesn’t offer a choice of encryption protocols like most VPN providers do.
It uses OpenVPN in the Windows app and IPsec in the Mac application. OpenVPN, like OpenSSL, is open source software, meaning that it’s responsive to new security threats. IPsec can be disabled automatically by some routers, unless you enable the “VPN passthrough” function.
IPsec is commonly used by VPN providers, but was originally designed by a committee and is thought by some to be subject to problems because of its flexibility and complexity. Both IPsec and OpenVPN offer a layer of security separate from the OpenSSL layer, which means that Avast is doing a good job of protecting you from prying eyes, as our DNS leak test confirmed.
In addition to standard VPN encryption protocols, Avast has a series of security enhancements, such as the password vault that allows you to enter all your passwords into an app that encrypts them. That can be accessed through the key icon in your computer’s application bar, and will generate new strong passwords for you as necessary.
It also has a feature called “shields” that protects against ransomware or hackers breaking into your file system. Ransomware is a malicious download that locks you out of your computer until you pay a ransom to regain access. If you keep files on your computer that are essential to your business, this protection is worth having.
Note that Avast has a qualified no-logs policy. It keeps a record of the times you connect and disconnect, the duration of the connection and how much bandwidth you used. It says in the FAQ this is for diagnostic purposes and to prevent people from abusing the VPN connection.
On the other hand, it doesn’t keep a record of the websites you visit, which IP addresses are accessed or what data is transferred, so it shouldn’t be possible for anyone to connect you to your browsing activity in the case of legal action.
However, VPN providers can sometimes be legally required to keep a record of your activity and there’s no way of knowing if that has happened, unless you use a VPN with a warrant canary. See our BolehVPN and PerfectPrivacy review to read about providers that have this feature.
Avast is the only VPN we’ve come across where you have to pay extra to get access to its technical support staff. It’s also unusual in that the support staff operate by phone, rather than email or instant messenger. That means you have to pay for the calls, and we all know technical troubleshooting by phone can take a while.
If you don’t pay for the tech support, you’ll have to rely on the FAQ and user forums on its website. The knowledgebase in the FAQ is decent.
Avast SecureLine VPN doesn’t have a lot of fancy features unless you pay extra for them, but the features it does have are useful things, such as a killswitch and a trusted networks setting. It has an attractive interface that’s easy to navigate and everything works efficiently, so you don’t have to think too much about fine-tuning your settings.
It’s on the expensive side and, if you pay for its other security features, it might get complicated trying to monitor the frequent reminders about your virus protection or ransomware shield. It’s a good option for Netflix, but doesn’t have a lot of P2P torrenting servers. See our best VPN for torrenting article for options in this regard.
If you’re shopping for a VPN, we think Avast is worth comparing to a few of the other top VPN providers listed in our best VPN article to see if its combination of features suits you. If you have an experience with Avast that you want to share, please tell us about it in the comments below.