Today, we’re looking at two VPN providers that are both arguably household names, at least within the world of cyber security, but for very different reasons. ExpressVPN is one of — if not the best — VPN on the market today. It boasts tons of features, excellent speeds and top-notch security, which you can read about in our ExpressVPN review.
Avast, on the other hand, holds a large market share of anti-malware software. You can read about this anti-malware software in our Avast Pro review, but today, we’re looking at Avast’s attempt at a VPN with SecureLine VPN.
In our Avast SecureLine VPN review, we were not too impressed with its overall performance, but found that it was very user-friendly and had excellent speeds. We decided it would be interesting to pit these two giants against each other in an Avast SecureLine VPN vs. ExpressVPN matchup.
Setting Up a Fight: Avast VPN vs. ExpressVPN
Editor’s Note 1/28/2020: A report has surfaced showing that Avast and its subsidiaries collect user browsing data from more than 100 million devices. We cannot, in good faith, recommend Avast or AVG products until we look further into the issue.
In order to have a fair competition, there has to be rules. We’ve developed a nine-round face-off for these VPNs to compete in. The rounds include things like speed, security, user-friendliness and streaming performance.
Each of these categories is weighted equally because each one is a critical aspect that people look for when choosing a VPN. In each round, we look at how the providers compare to one another, then choose a winner. The victor of each round is assigned a point and the one with the most points at the end is declared the champion.
- : PayPal, Credit card, Debit Card
- : 5
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, regional payment systems, WebMoney
- : 5
We tested each VPN in the same five locations around the world to compare them. We also took a baseline measurement of our internet speeds without any VPN to see just how much of a performance loss each VPN caused.
Avast VPN Speeds
|Location:||Ping (ms)||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)|
|Location:||Ping (ms)||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)|
|Smart location-Kansas City||44||105.49||7.94|
ExpressVPN and Avast SecureLine VPN performed impressively well, with each one trading blows in certain locations with ping time and download speeds. We saw ExpressVPN beat out Avast SecureLine in ping times in three locations, while the Avast VPN was ahead in two locations.
As for download speeds, Avast SecureLine VPN was able to get greater bandwidth in three out of five locations, which was quite surprising considering ExpressVPN has done exceptionally well in the past, as you can see in our fastest VPNs roundup.
That said, ExpressVPN beat Avast in upload speeds in every location. What’s more, though, is that the actual experience of using ExpressVPN felt much more responsive.
Avast SecureLine VPN can often take two or three seconds for pages to start loading, but after that, it seemed to make good use of its speed. ExpressVPN, on the other hand, loaded very quickly, no matter which server we used.
Because of the back-and-forth nature of the speeds we saw in testing, this real-world difference is the deciding factor and wins ExpressVPN this round.
We started our streaming testing on the most unforgiving site out there when it comes to denying VPN users: BBC iPlayer. ExpressVPN was able to easily cut through the BBC’s blockade, as was Avast SecureLine VPN when we used the dedicated UK streaming server.
Although ExpressVPN does not have dedicated servers for streaming, all of its servers seemed to perform just fine for this task without any special modifications whatsoever.
SecureLine VPN does have dedicated streaming servers and did make its way into BBC iPlayer content, but if you’re thinking you can use Avast SecureLine VPN for Netflix, you might need to reconsider. We were given an error message by Netflix when we tried to access it from the U.S. streaming server.
That makes this round a clear-cut victory for ExpressVPN, as it was able to get through to any streaming site we tried, even without dedicated streaming servers. This should come as a surprise to almost no one because ExpressVPN earned the number-one spot on our best VPN for streaming article a while back.
3. Security and Privacy
Avast SecureLine VPN does not offer users any choice when it comes to protocols and encryption. Instead, it locks Windows users into AES-256 encryption and OpenVPN protocol. If you’re wondering how secure VPNs are, check out our VPN security article. You’ll see that this combination is top-notch and will keep you safe and sound while online.
Apple users who want to use Avast’s VPN will be locked into the IKEv2 protocol, which is used because it plays nice with Apple’s operating systems more so than OpenVPN. It also offers more reliable performance and stability while still giving users solid protection.
ExpressVPN also offers users the golden standard of OpenVPN with AES-256, as well as several other protocol options, such as L2TP and PPTP, which we actually wouldn’t recommend anyone use, but it’s nice to have the option. The ExpressVPN extension for browsers also adds a few additional layers of security, such as preventing HTML5 geolocation.
Not only that, but digging into the company’s history shows that Avast VPN’s logging has been used by law enforcement to match email address with an IP to locate someone.
The previous section is closely tied to the issue of torrenting. Both ExpressVPN and Avast Secure VPN allow for torrenting on their platforms. In fact, Avast SecureLine VPN even goes so far as to offer dedicated P2P servers, which ExpressVPN does not.
Much like we discussed with streaming, though, dedicated servers for something does not always mean better performance or superior security. Both ExpressVPN and Avast SecureLine VPN will keep your connection secure and private while you torrent, and both also offer solid speeds while downloading.
However, what really matters is that ExpressVPN is essentially incapable of giving information about you to authorities (especially if you pay with bitcoin, which we’ll discuss shortly), while Avast VPN keeps logs of IP addresses and has given them over to authorities.
So, if you were wondering if Avast VPN is good for torrenting, the short answer is no. In further contrast to this lack of privacy from Avast VPN, ExpressVPN also has the advantage of split tunneling, letting you choose which applications use the VPN connection and which ones use the regular internet. Read our guide to torrenting with ExpressVPN.
This means you can be torrenting something with a secure VPN connection while at the same time downloading other less sensitive files or just browsing the web on a full-speed, unprotected connection.
5. Server Locations
Avast SecureLine VPN has 55 servers in 34 different countries. The overall spread of servers is respectable, with some hard-to-find locations getting much-needed attention, such as New Zealand and Brazil, but most countries only have a single server. This can cause bandwidth issues and can lead to slower performance during peak usage hours.
ExpressVPN, by contrast, has more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries. This is one of the beefiest server counts on the market today and gives the ExpressVPN network the necessary infrastructure to handle tremendous bandwidth loads around the clock.
The only VPN that beats this number of locations is HideMyAss, which you can read about in our HideMyAss review. It offers users virtual access to 290 server locations in 190 countries. What’s interesting about this is that HideMyAss is actually owned by Avast, which makes us wonder why the SecureLine VPN server count seems so weak.
6. Simultaneous Connections
We’ll start by looking at the simultaneous connections with ExpressVPN, as it makes things easier. ExpressVPN essentially offers a single plan with several time frames, which we’ll talk about in more detail in the next section, but all of these options allow for five simultaneous connections.
Avast SecureLine VPN is not so simple. It has many plans available in varying time frames, with most of these plans only covering a single device. However, there is an Avast multi-device plan that allows users to protect up to five devices.
Because both providers offer a plan with five connections, this round simply ends in a tie. If you’re someone with a lot of devices that need protecting, we suggest you check out CyberGhost either in our dedicated CyberGhost review or our ExpressVPN vs. CyberGhost matchup.
ExpressVPN is one of the pricier options when it comes to VPNs. If you check out some of our other matchup articles, such as ExpressVPN vs. IPVanish, you’ll find that ExpressVPN has lost this round several times in the past.
As we already mentioned, ExpressVPN offers one plan in three periods: one month, six months and 15 months, which is technically a one-year subscription with three free months thrown in. This plan is similar in pricing to Avast SecureLine VPN’s multi-device plan.
However, the Avast VPN price also includes many single-device options that offer a great value for those who are interested in only protecting one device. This is an especially great deal for those who just want to get a VPN for their phone, as an annual single-phone plan comes in at a meager $20 per year.
- : Unlimited GB
- : 1
Where ExpressVPN lacks any kind of free trial, Avast VPN offers a free trial that gives users seven days to try the VPN out without giving any of their information over. This isn’t quite as generous as ProtonVPN’s free plan, which you can read about in our ProtonVPN review, but it’s a great way to try out a VPN nonetheless.
In addition to the free trial, it’s also possible to cancel Avast VPN and get a refund if you do so within 30 days of signing up, but this same option is also available with ExpressVPN (find out how to cancel ExpressVPN). As for payment options, Avast only accepts credit or debit cards and PayPal, while ExpressVPN accepts these as well as bitcoin and about a dozen others.
It’s hard to say which of these is better in terms of pricing. Avast VPN offers a free trial, but ExpressVPN accepts bitcoin and several other forms of payment that Avast does not. Avast offers tons of plans that can save single-device users money, but the multi-device plan makes the pricing comparable.
In the end, which of these pricing models is better for you will depend on the individual, meaning we’re calling this round a tie.
At first glance, both VPNs offer a solid user experience. Avast VPN’s client is pretty empty, but this makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. ExpressVPN, on the other hand, has a lot more going on, especially in the settings menu. However, it manages to keep things well organized in the interface, which makes it just as easy to use as the simpler Avast interface.
After using each software for some time, we did find one peculiarity with Avast’s client. Whenever we tried to click and drag it around, the window wouldn’t move smoothly with our mouse. Instead, it stuttered around the screen.
Naturally, this was a bit concerning, and we thought there might be something wrong with our computer, but every other window was still working fine when we moved them around.
There was also a delay between when we moved the mouse and when the Avast VPN window shifted. This delay made it practically impossible to place the window where we wanted it to go because even when we stopped moving the mouse, the window would continue traveling for a moment before also stopping.
This put a damper on the otherwise user-friendly interface, and the lack of any issues like this with ExpressVPN means we’re giving this round to ExpressVPN.
There are a few basic features we always look for and expect to see in every VPN. These essential features include some kind of auto-connection ability and a kill switch. Both of these features have a profound impact on the security of the service, so not having either of these will hurt a VPN significantly.
Both providers have these features available, but ExpressVPN provides a better overall execution. For example, Avast SecureLine VPN has the kill switch turned off by default, which we never recommend, while ExpressVPN has it on from the get-go.
Because both VPNs offer the most critical features, we looked at what additional features are included to determine which VPN is better. As we’ve seen many times before, though — such as in our ExpressVPN vs. TunnelBear article — ExpressVPN can be very hard to beat when it comes to features.
ExpressVPN has split tunneling, which is an incredibly versatile feature that is surprisingly hard to find, with another prime example being found in our StrongVPN review.
Split tunneling lets users choose which programs use the VPN’s protected connections and which ones use the faster and more open unprotected internet connection. Furthermore, ExpressVPN offers an excellent speed test feature.
On top of this, as we mentioned in the “security” section, ExpressVPN offers four protocol options while Avast offers only one. Avast also lacks split tunneling. With it’s more fleshed out kill switch and auto-connection options, as well as split tunneling and more diverse security options, ExpressVPN is a no-brainer in this round.
10. Final Thoughts
In the end, ExpressVPN won almost every round. We could not use Avast VPN for Netflix, while ExpressVPN had no trouble with it (read our how to watch Netflix with ExpressVPN guide). We had trouble with Avast’s interface moving in odd ways when we tried to reposition it, and we also found that Avast tracks user information and has even given it over to authorities.
ExpressVPN has none of these issues and, additionally, offers vastly more features than Avast SecureLine VPN. The decision is clear: ExpressVPN is the better option here. If you’ve had experience with either of these providers, let us know about it in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.