First of all, it’s worth keeping in mind that Avast does not solely produce a VPN service, but is instead a security company that is also offering a VPN tool. This alone could explain the lack of some features that are usually seen with such programs and why others are not clearly visible on the main screen – as is typical – but buried within the FAQ, instead. Nevertheless, SecureLine VPN has one of the simplest desktop clients we’ve ever seen, making this yet another in a long line of ‘connect & go’ tools. Sadly there are no other extra features to make it worthy of that term, though at least P2P is supported.
Connect & Go
We always like to use this term when VPN apps get straight to the point. As a matter of fact, there isn’t much to do with Avast SecureLine other than choosing a server and activating the VPN or choosing the client’s behavior every time a connection is established on a new Wi-Fi network. This highlights the customer profile that Avast is targeting with its software: VPN beginners who simply want to unblock websites and services as fast as possible and not waste time trying to understand protocols and other technical tweaks. However, experienced VPN users will likely be disappointed that they can’t access advanced info or customize the service to their needs.
Another popular reason for people to purchase a VPN is to hide themselves when torrenting. Avast knows this very well and has ensured that torrenters have a reason to use their product by making it P2P compatible. However, note that there are specific servers reserved for P2P sharing, but they are not marked as such in the client. Instead, the list is only available in the FAQ page. Also, care should be used when torrenting because, despite Avast having reliable IP and DNS leak protection, it doesn’t offer a kill switch.
Avast’s VPN network is certainly surprising. Yes, it’s still only a medium-sized network at the end of the day, but it offers more countries than some VPN-only companies. With Avast SecureLine customers can connect to servers in 33 countries, enough to cover the entire globe. Avast offers unlimited bandwidth and claims it delivers speeds of up to 2GB/s, though naturally this depends on a number of factors and is highly unlikely to reach even half this figure.
A curiosity worth mentioning, however, is that Avast is able to miraculously break fictional barriers and place a server in Batman’s Gotham City, a fun Easter Egg that cleverly conceals the server located New York. Providing the Joker or any other goon doesn’t interfere with it, this server should get speeds on par with NYC.
Having said that, our tests from Europe covered several servers and though the best results were obtained on servers closer to our real location, those that are farther away still provided decent connections as well. Obviously, we just had to try Gotham City, which produced some impressive results, on par with the those obtained in Europe despite obviously having a much larger ping.
IP and DNS leaks were also addressed during our tests and Avast SecureLine didn’t show anything wrong in here, meaning that all VPN connections are 100% accurate and safe.
On the one hand, it’s understandable that a VPN tool created by a company like Avast won’t match the quality of those delivered by those that operate only within the VPN industry. But on the other hand, there are no excuses when it comes to providing trustworthy security and privacy protection. In this regard, Avast truly delivers, not only due to its IP and DNS leak protection but also because of the AES 256-bit encryption and Open SSL for certificate authentication.
However, the selection of protocols is very limited and – even worse than that – cannot be changed, ever. Instead, VPN protocols are automatically attributed to each user based on the operating system that they’re using: OpenVPN on UDP is reserved for Windows computers and IPSec for Mac. In the same measure, the company’s no log policy leaves some doubts in the air.
In the same section where it explains that neither the websites that are visited nor the data that is transferred is ever stored, it also says that time stamps of connections, their duration and amount of bandwidth used is indeed stored for “service improvement” purposes – which could still be a concern for those insistent on their secure privacy.
OS, Device Support
This is perhaps Avast SecureLine’s biggest weakness when compared to other similar VPNs. Device support is limited to computers and mobile, and even then it limits support to only the four most popular ones. Windows and Mac computers running at least XP and OS X and Android and iOS smartphones and tablets with versions 4.0 and 5.1, respectively, are the only platforms that are available. Linux and Windows Phone are left out, for instance, as are routers, which is unfortunate since this would be preferable for those seeking to extend the VPN range to all the household’s devices.
The maximum number of connections is five, and if you want to make use of more than that then it’ll be worthwhile to get the special multi-platform bundle to save money.
Avast SecureLine VPN is separate from other Avast products, so it requires its own special license just for it. At first glance, the pricing seems pretty straightforward but there are actually a lot of plans that can be combined together, helping customers to save some extra cash. In truth, the pricing table on the website displays only one annual subscription, with different costs for computers and mobile users. This is the standalone pricing for only one license, costing Windows and Mac customers $59.99 per year per computer, while those using Android and iOS pay much less, at $19.99 per year.
When confirming the purchase, however, it’s possible to change the billing period as well as the number of PCs to be used, the latter of which can be increased to a maximum of ten. When it comes to the subscription length, the minimum is one month and costs $5.99 while the maximum is three years, billed at $159.99. Opting for the latter allows a saving of roughly $20 on the annual plan.
It’s also possible to manually add the VPN to other platforms, but all of them have associated costs that will increase the total amount. Instead of doing this, we recommend opting for the plan that supports the maximum five devices at a special price of $63.99 per year through a special promotion, which in the end is the same as paying $5.33 per month.
But there’s yet another bundle worth mentioning here: the so-called Avast Ultimate that, for $119.99 per year, provides SecureLine VPN alongside the company’s complete version of its antivirus, registry cleaner and password manager for one computer.
Avast accepts payments using credit cards and PayPal. In addition, customers can try Avast SecureLine VPN for free for a period of seven days thanks to a free trial with no service restrictions, not to mention a 30-day money back guarantee for a risk-free refund on any purchase.
Avast relies mostly on a ticket submission platform for its customer service, but before resorting to this it might be best to spend some time in the FAQ page since this provides great help for both general and technical questions. In fact, this is where you’ll find important information regarding the use of your VPN, such as which servers support P2P, the protocols and encryption used, and more.
This is not the only place to seek for help, though. Avast is also quite active on social media, primarily on Facebook and Twitter but on other places too, like LinkedIn, Google+ or YouTube. A lot of the content posted on these channels is also available on the company’s blog, and for all those that are still VPN beginners the client itself also provides a nice tutorial immediately after installation.
When it comes to VPN services that are not created by companies specializing in VPN but by large security firms instead, it’s likely that customers will stumble across certain limitations, especially if they know what to look for beforehand. Avast SecureLine is such a service, clearly aiming primarily at those who are just getting into the concept of VPN protection. This doesn’t mean the product is bad, not at all; in fact, considering that Avast is not known for its VPN service, SecureLine still offers quite an impressive network of servers with speeds that really deliver, even on the highest pings.
However, it is unfortunate that some of the most important features to look for in a VPN are hidden in the FAQ page and not immediately visible from the start. There’s no reason why some of these couldn’t be added to the actual client, even. And given the shortage of customizable features pricing can be considered a bit exaggerated, though the seven-day free trial is something worth praising.
But the target audience of this VPN simply doesn’t care about that. Having lots of servers and a simple means of connection in an equally simple client that is enough to unblock streaming websites is really all that makes this userbase happy. And with this in mind, Avast SecureLine can only be considered a bullseye hit.
- Simple connect & go client
- Good speeds even on distant servers
- Developed by Avast
- P2P supported
- No IP or DNS leaks
- Pricing is exaggerated
- Limited protocol options
- Short on extra features