Updated on: 01.31.2018
With Avast’s impressive background in cybersecurity, you’d think you’ll be secure and anonymous online. But that would be judging a book by its cover.
This is the company that gave us excellent and reliable tools like Avast Internet Security and Avast Antivirus. Yet, we must tell our privacy-sensitive readers they should probably spend their hard-earned money elsewhere. That said, for a complete VPN newbie, SecureLine could be exactly what they need.
So is this VPN safe or any good, after all? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.
Security and privacy
Online security and privacy are the most important aspects if you’re looking to buy a VPN.
Let’s see what SecureLine VPN has for you:
- IPsec and OpenVPN on UDP protocols
- DNS leak protection
- AES-256 military-grade encryption
- All ports are encrypted to keep your online activities private
…And that’s about it. Not very convincing for someone at least moderately familiar with VPNs. Still, even these features can make a VPN safe enough, depending on what you use it for.
On that note, let’s see what’s missing: there’s no kill switch (gasp!). Why is it such a big issue, you ask?
Without a kill switch, a VPN service is practically useless.
Yes, really. Imagine that, all of a sudden, your connection to a VPN server drops. This would make any app that needs web access automatically reestablish its connection via your ISP, leaving you completely exposed. This might end disastrously, especially if you’re a political activist, investigative journalist, or even a simple BitTorrent user.
Therefore, if absolute anonymity is a must, we can’t advise you to use this service. However, if you simply plan to use this VPN to access Netflix, you may well be completely fine.
Does Avast VPN keep logs?
What do you think of a VPN provider that keeps personally identifiable information about you, such as your connection logs including your true IP address?
Avast SecureLine VPN logs timestamps and your actual IP address, as well as the IPs of VPN servers you connect to.
According to Avast Transparency Report 2017, there were 28 log disclosure requests from authorities in different countries. Avast proved to be helpful in one case regarding a Czech investigation, where personally identifiable information was provided for the police. To be precise, a user’s true IP address was linked to an email account.
That’s quite a worrying record. We can’t just turn a blind eye on that, and we’ll make sure that our review has a negative score for this.
Is Avast SecureLine VPN leak-proof?
While the service offers reliable IP and DNS leak protection, WebRTC leaks are another matter.
WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is a built-in browser feature enabled by default in some of the major browsers like Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. In other words, this isn’t actually Avast VPN’s problem. Still, it can cause serious privacy and security issues.
The temporary solution to this major leak issue offered by Avast is to “protect your privacy in the meantime by blocking or disabling WebRTC manually.”
Please note that certain applications depend on the WebRTC feature. For example, file sharing and video chatting may not work with it disabled.
Speed and performance
To see how Avast SecureLine performs, we ran several speed tests in various locations. Before we connected to our first test server, these were our baseline readings:
Then, we tried different corners of the world to see a general picture. Here’s what we found.
- Download: 44 Mbps
- Upload: 8 Mbps
- Download: 51 Mbps
- Upload: 23 Mbps
- Download: 39 Mbps
- Upload: 2 Mbps
These are relatively good speeds – enough for even 4K video streaming, torrenting, and geo-unblocking. However, keep in mind that our baseline speeds were relatively high. If your base speeds are lower, you may experience inferior performance.
While definitely not the fastest VPN we’ve seen, Avast SecureLine can still be a good choice for general secure browsing.
Avast SecureLine VPN has the lowest number of servers when compared to the top 10 VPN providers – their fleet fields only 55 servers in 34 countries. However, despite its low server count, the service still has good coverage of the major locations across the globe.
The company claims that these VPN servers can theoretically handle up to 2 Gbits/s traffic loads. They also do regular stress tests and get average speeds of 450-600 Mbits/sec, which are very tempting numbers.
Ease of use and multi-platform support
You have quite the basic choices when it comes to Avast SecureLine clients:
The one positive thing to mention here is that these apps are very easy to use.
For the PC and Mac versions, you can choose to download the free trial version, or you can click Buy Now. The Avast VPN Android and iOS clients, however, can only be downloaded as trials for first-timers.
Once you get your VPN client, it’s only a matter of several clicks in the “OK-Next-I accept…-Next-Next-Install-Finish” drill to get it up and running.
When you log into your activated app, you’ll see the initial screen:
This home screen has basic information on it, including your real location and the last location you chose.
If you select the OFF button, you’ll automatically connect to the last used server. When you click the Change Location button, a screen comes up with all the servers categorized by regions and functions (P2P or Streaming).
The good thing is that you don’t need to disconnect from the current server before choosing another one. We do like when there are no unnecessary clicks involved.
But what about the Settings menu and customization? The General menu offers you only four options, none of which offer anything of substance:
…Yep, not much to do here. Let’s check the Network Security menu next. Will we find any exciting options there?
…Nope. Move along. Nothing to see here either.
Basically, that’s all the features. Avast doesn’t give you too many technical choices, which is why it could be a great start for a beginner but certainly won’t impress a VPN enthusiast.
Does it work with Netflix and Kodi?
We started testing the Netflix US catalog first and were surprised to find that not only the dedicated US Streaming servers worked, but other random US servers (New York and Washington) did as well.
However, when we connected to the UK Streaming server, we failed to access Netflix UK. Then, we tried the London server on a just-in-case basis and we succeeded: yes, you can watch Netflix UK.
Unfortunately, we kept failing with other Netflix regions like Canada and Australia. However, we got lucky when we tried the Paris server for Netflix FR and the Tokyo server for Netflix JP. In fact, we were surprised to find the Tokyo server to perform impressively fast.
All in all, we found Avast to be quite decent for Netflix.
What about Kodi, though?
In theory, you could use Avast VPN for Kodi since it has the good speeds, the support for Kodi, and the encryption. However, you should think twice when it comes to one of the biggest Avast VPN problems: its logging policy.
Of course, you may only use Kodi to access geo-restricted TV shows and not those “shady” torrenting add-ons with free movie libraries. But even that can be “frowned upon” by your government or media streamers. So tread very carefully when using this VPN with Kodi.
P2P and torrenting
Avast SecureLine VPN supports torrenting on a limited number of servers and its connection speeds could be just fine for P2P file-sharing, but there’s this issue with our privacy and logging concerns.
As we’ve stated earlier, the company has a tendency to share information with the authorities. This basically disqualifies this VPN as a good choice for torrenting.
Using the wrong VPN software for file-sharing could end with a nasty copyright notice or worse. Find out more about Avast VPN and torrenting here.
You can access Avast’s online Support Center, but it may not get you far. The Support Center options include:
- An FAQ database
- Help forums
- Free 24/7 consultation via phone
- No live chat support
It may also take up to two days for the support staff to address your issue. In fact, you can’t even send them an email directly, but it’s possible to submit a support ticket by clicking the Contact Us button at the bottom of the FAQ pages.
The only “live” way for you to be connected to a human is to call the customer support phone number.
This is what Avast offers for its 1-year plan and single devices:
And then there are all kinds of other options:
- 1-year plan for multiple devices (up to 5): $79.99 ($6.66/month)
- 2-year plan for multiple devices (up to 5): $149.99 ($6.24/month)
- 3-year plan for multiple devices (up to 5): $219.99 ($6.11/month)
- 2-year plan for 1 PC or Mac: $109.99 ($4.58/month)
- 3-year plan for 1 PC or Mac: $159.99 ($4.44/month)
Yes, the $4.xx monthly amounts may sound fair and relatively low. But let’s not forget that these are for a single device only while other competitors offer 5 or 6 multiple devices for similar prices. So, you do the math.
Payment methods are also quite limited. You can pay for your Avast plan via a credit card, debit card, or PayPal. No cryptocurrency, i.e., anonymous payment is offered or accepted.
SecureLine offers a 7-day free trial version. It appears to be fully functional and without any obvious limitations. As a matter of fact, you may also select a 60-day free trial. In this case, your default order is a 1-year plan, which you can’t change.
You can try Avast for free for as long as 60 days as long as you provide your payment credentials. Keep in mind that you must cancel your subscription in time unless you want to be charged for a whole year.
All things considered, we can say that this VPN is by far the easiest to use for anyone who is not really into IT or cybersecurity. However, if you’re a frequent traveler, a hacker, a journalist, or an activist, you may find Avast SecureLine to be poorly equipped with security features.
You can give it a chance and get a refund within 30 days if it fails to charm you. Or, better yet, protect yourself with the best possible VPN software for real peace of mind.
Let us learn from your experience
Have you ever tried to use Avast VPN or any other VPN services before? What are your impressions?
Feel free to leave your comment below.