Avast SecureLine VPN Review
|Based in||Czech Republic|
Avast is a big name in online security and SecureLine is their entry in the VPN space.The SecureLine VPN offers decent performance, along with solid security and ease of use. However, there are some issues that you will want to know about before giving this service a try. In this Avast VPN review, we dig into both the software side of things (performance, security, privacy, and more) along with the external factors (pricing, logs, and so on) that gave us pause. We hope you will find the information useful as you search for the best VPN for your unique circumstances.
Avast Secureline VPN OverviewHere what we learned about Avast’s Secureline VPN during our testing and research. We’ll cover each item in these lists in detail later in the review:
Avast Secureline PROs:
- Easy to use
- No leaky apps
- Strong privacy and security features
- Support for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
- P2P support
Avast Secureline CONs:
- Avast caught selling user data collected through their antivirus products
- Avast keeps connection logs
- Small server network
- No support for Linux
- No anonymous payment options
- High prices and difficult refund policy
- No router support
Additional interesting FACTS:
- Owned by Avast Software s.r.o., which is based in Prague, Czech Republic.
- Speed test results – Mediocre connection speeds
- Mixed results with Netflix
- Okay support
Avast Secureline PROsHere are some great things you should know about Avast Secureline VPN:
1. Easy to use Avast VPN appsSecureLine VPN is about as easy to use as it comes. Launch it and you will have no problem figuring out how to turn it on. You also won’t need to worry about complicated lists of VPN protocols or server types and locations. Avast calculates the optimal server to connect you to. You can see which server that is once the VPN connects: As you can see in the image above, the optimal location the VPN selected was the Miami, USA server location from among 57 possible locations. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
2. No VPN leaks detectedWe ran the SecureLine VPN through our standard set of VPN tests, looking for things that didn’t work right. The Avast SecureLine VPN apps didn’t show any problems: no leaks, no crashes. The VPN protects against DNS leaks by forcing DNS requests to go to the VPN’s own DNS servers through the encrypted VPN tunnel. The following image shows the Windows VPN in action. If you look closely on the left (circled in red), you can see my Virtual IP address (at the time I was writing this). Look on the right and you will see that my virtual IP address is the one that ipleak.net is seeing. Don’t worry about the IPv6 “error” in the preceding image. SecureLine VPN doesn’t support IPv6, so of course that test will fail. Note: You might have noticed something odd in the image above. Although you can see in the VPN window on the left that I am connected to a server in Miami, USA, ipleak.net on the right is claiming the IP address if the server I am connected to is in Italy. It turns out that the database that ipleak.net uses to map an IP address to a physical location, is not 100% accurate. The IP address does indeed correspond to Miami, FL. If you would like to confirm this yourself, you can go to this site IP to Google Maps and enter the IP address 126.96.36.199. You will see that the IP address is, indeed, a location in Miami Florida. We also tested the Android VPN app. It too passed the leak tests with no problems.
3. Strong privacy and security featuresAvast SecureLine VPN uses strong, industry-standard privacy and security features. In keeping with this VPN’s ease-of-use approach, there are no real options to adjust when it comes to privacy and security features. When you use it, your configuration is: There is currently no support for the WireGuard VPN protocol, IKEv2, or any other protocols.
4. Support for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android operating systemsA subscription to Avast SecureLine VPN allows you to install the product on devices running the following operating systems: Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. SecureLine can even protect your Smart TV if it runs Android TV. Subscriptions are available for a single device or for 5 simultaneous devices. Your subscription also includes browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome. These extensions add WebRTC protection to the VPN’s capabilities, but other than that simply serve as a way to control the VPN from within the browser window. While it may add some convenience.
5. Avast VPN allows P2P torrentsSecureLine does support P2P file sharing (torrenting) in its network, but only on a limited number of servers. At the time of this Avast VPN review, this was the list of P2P-capable server locations:
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Frankfurt, Germany
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- New York City, New York
- Miami, Florida
- Seattle, Washington
- London, United Kingdom
- Paris, France
Avast SecureLine CONsHere are some not-so-great things you should know about Avast Secureline VPN:
1. Avast caught selling user data collected through their antivirus productsThis year (2021), privacy experts discovered that Avast was harvesting user data through their antivirus products, then selling that data to third parties. According to the company,
The data is fully de-identified and aggregated and cannot be used to personally identify or target you.The data that was collected did not include the user’s name, email address, or IP address. While we really don’t like the idea of anyone selling user data like this, it doesn’t sound like the data can be used to personally identify anyone. That is, until you learn that every data record also includes a unique device ID, which persists until the user uninstalls the Avast antivirus from that device. The data that was being collected was extremely detailed, right down to every click the user made, and the exact millisecond that they clicked. With that level of detail, it wouldn’t be too hard to attach a person’s identity to a device ID. For example, imagine that you have a website that offers a free newsletter. Imagine also that you are a buyer of Avast’s data. You know that I, Heinrich Long, signed up for your newsletter on September 03, 2021, at 9:32:01. Next, you go look at your Avast data, and see that exactly one person, using a computer with device ID 123abc, clicked the signup button for your newsletter on September 03, 2021, at 9:32:01. You have just discovered that device ID abc123 is a computer used by me, Heinrich Long. Now you can go through your Avast data and see everywhere I go on the Internet, and everything I do there. And surely, there are algorithms that make identifying people from such data all the more easier.
- Timestamps of your connections (when you log on and off).
- The subnet of your originating IP address. An IP address is composed of 4 octets of data. Each octet consists of 8 bits of data, with a range from 0 to 255. The first three octets collectively identify a subnet. The final octet identifies the device. According to Avast, they anonymize the final octet of the address, meaning they don’t identify you directly. But there are a maximum of 255 devices that could be identified by that final octet.
- IP address of the VPN server you are using.
- The amount of data transferred while you are logged on.
3. Small server networkAt the time of this Avast VPN review, the SecureLine server network consisted of 58 server locations in 34 countries. While this isn’t the smallest VPN server network out there, consider that ExpressVPN has 160 server locations in 94 countries, and NordVPN has over 5,600 servers in 59 countries. Avast has done a good job of locating servers in key countries around the world. Even so, the SecureLine VPN has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to the size of their network. There are several reasons having a large server network is beneficial. More servers in more locations can give your overall network more bandwidth, reducing the risk of slowdowns. More servers can also help when it comes to unblocking websites. Finally, when an individual VPN server fails or a natural disaster strikes, more servers means more redundancy to the overall network. When it comes to VPNs, more is generally better.
4. No support for LinuxOne important thing that is not on Avast SecureLine’s list of supported platforms is Linux. Even the browser apps will not work on Linux, since they require the desktop app to be installed. See our list of the best VPNs for Linux instead.
5. No anonymous payment optionsWhile more and more VPN services are supporting “anonymous” payment options such as Bitcoin, Avast has stuck with the classics, credit or debit card, along with PayPal. Considering the way their products are designed to make things simple for users, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the payment options should be simple too.
6. High prices and difficult refund policySecureLine VPN offers two sets of prices: one for single-device subscriptions, and one for 5-device subscriptions. Given how few people have only a single Internet-connected device, we suggest you concentrate on the 5-device subscription plans: While the initial pricing on the SecureLine VPN is decent, that is because of the steep discounts given for an initial subscription. Let’s use the 2-year subscription for a 5-device (five simultaneous connections) plan as an example: The initial price for this plan is $95.76. That’s a decent price, and many other VPN services use the same kind of massive discounts. So how can we say that Avast offers high prices? We can say that because things are very different at renewal time. Let’s compare the 2-year Avast offer to plans from two of the top VPNs in the world. Here we can see the 2-year offer from NordVPN. It is actually more expensive than the SecureLine VPN 2-year pricing. Now look carefully at the circled areas for each offer. Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer steep discounts when you sign up. And they both renew at that price after the initial term. Avast SecureLine VPN gives you the discount price for that first two years, but then the price jumps up to the full price of $179.99. Suddenly Avast moves into higher pricing tiers and is no longer a cheap VPN. Just to be sure that this is actually the case, we dug into the support pages at Avast, and found this,
When you purchase an Avast subscription, we may offer you an initial discounted price. This offer applies only to the first subscription cycle, after which you are charged full price. The full subscription price is provided during purchase, and you are informed in advance by email before payment is taken. If you are unhappy with the renewal price, cancel your subscription before the end of the current subscription cycle and you will not be charged.If you sign up for the SecureLine VPN expecting to get the same good price after renewal, you will be disappointed. If you already signed up for the service, you might want to take their advice and cancel your subscription before the end of the current subscription cycle.
SecureLine VPN free trialAvast gives you a nice 7-day free trial of the SecureLine VPN. You don’t need to enter a credit card for this trial, and they give you full access to their VPN server network and all the features, so it would definitely be the way to go to test this VPN service. If you want to go this route, there are also other free trial VPNs to consider.
Avast refund policyAvast offers a 30-day money back guarantee, on the SecureLine VPN, which is great. However, like the subscription pricing, you need to be a bit careful. Whereas services like ExpressVPN offer “hassle-free” 30-day refunds, Avast makes you jump through some hoops. Here is the basic process, as described on the Avast website: To find out if you are eligible for a refund, you must follow this process: Then you need to go to a different page to determine if you meet all the refund criteria stated in the Avast Cancellation and Refund Policy, and on and on. We’re sure you could eventually get to the end of all this, but we gave up at this point. This is a difficult refund policy.
7. No router supportAvast SecureLine doesn’t offer router support. Given that this VPN seems aimed at the regular person, rather than techies, this is a logical choice. So if installing a VPN on a router is important to you, then Avast VPN isn’t a good choice.
Additional interesting FACTsHere are additional interesting facts you should know about Avast SecureLine VPN:
1. SecureLine VPN and Avast Software s.r.o. (background info)The SecureLine VPN is a product of Avast Software s.r.o. Avast Software is based in the Czech Republic. The country is not part of any of the major international intelligence gathering organizations such as FVEY (Five Eyes), but it does reportedly cooperate with them to some extent. We would rate this an average location for a security and privacy company to be based. Better than say the United States or Great Britain, and worse than places like Panama, Switzerland, or the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Note: The parent company, Avast, also owns and operates AVG Secure VPN. Check out our AVG VPN review for more info.
2. Speed test results: mediocre performanceFor this Avast VPN review, I ran speed tests on a handful of different servers in the US, Canada, and Europe. All tests were done using the Windows client and the OpenVPN protocol and AES-256 encryption on a 100 Mbps (baseline) connection. First I tested the “Optimal location” server, which happened to be in Seattle: 76 Mbps. Not too bad, but also not amazing. Next up was a server in Los Angeles: 90 Mbps. Then I tested a New York server. The speeds were not very good at 45 Mbps. Next up was a server in Montreal, Canada. Download speeds were 55 Mbps, again not great. While these aren’t horrible speeds, Avast SecureLine is not what I’d consider to be the best VPN for Canada. Lastly, I tested a server in the UK. Again, not great, but also not horrible. See the best UK VPNs for other options. The Avast SecureLine speed test results were about average, not good enough to be in the Pro category, but also not bad enough to be a Con.
3. Mixed Netflix results, not great for streamingNetflix is in a continual war with VPN services. Netflix tries to keep people from connecting to their service using a VPN, while the VPNs are continually coming up with new ways to get around the Netflix defenses. SecureLine isn’t particularly known for success in this war. We did some basic testing and found that on this particular day, some Avast servers were able to get through, while others were not. If connecting to Netflix or other streaming services is a priority, we suggest ExpressVPN, which our testing showed to be the best VPN for connecting to Netflix. But what about streaming in general? Well, unlike many other VPNs, it does not appear that Avast VPN caters much to the streaming crowd. And the service did not do well with accessing streaming sites in our tests. Check out these other VPNs for streaming instead.
4. Okay technical supportSupport for many Avast products is available from the same page. So the first step in getting support is to find your way to the SecureLine VPN – specific help page here. You’ll have access to a number of help topics and FAQs for do-it-yourself troubleshooting. If that isn’t enough to get the job done you can also click your way through the Contact us help ticket system, where you will have the option to chat with a rep or exchange email messages. Once again, things get complicated quickly. To complete a help ticket, you will need to find the confirmation letter email you received when you bought the product. Then you need to find your Avast order number, the exact location of which depends on which service fulfilled your order originally. Once you have that, you will be able to complete the contact form and wait for someone from Avast to contact you. Like we said, it’s complicated. According to the Avast website,
Avast Support usually responds within 2 business days, however, response times can vary depending on the support workload, language, and category of your issue.
Avast SecureLine VPN review conclusionThe Avast SecureLine VPN is a decent product that is hampered by a lot of externals. The VPN itself is user-friendly and provides strong security without any data leaks that we could find. But there is nothing here that makes it stand out from the crowd. The performance is mediocre, access to Netflix is marginal, and the server network is on the small side. Now add in that the price is on the high side after the initial discount wears off, the 30-day refund would be a headache, the company keeps fairly extensive connection logs, and Avast was caught selling user data gathered by their antivirus apps. While VPN itself works just fine, and Avast is a well-known name in the Internet security world, we can’t really recommend this product.
Alternatives to Avast SecureLine VPNClick the VPN name below to read our full review – or grab the discount for the best savings. All three of these VPNs have a 30 day money-back guarantee.
- ExpressVPN [49% discount + 3 Months Free]
- NordVPN [68% discount]