Avast Secureline

Avast Secureline VPN Review

Avast Secureline Vpn Review

As a newer VPN to enter the marketplace (and one that’s developed by the #1 antivirus software provider in the world), it seems that the engineers behind the Avast Secureline VPN app have learned from the mistakes of its predecessors in dozens of different ways.

But does the company come out of the gate firing on all cylinders, or stumble in the areas where it's most important? Read on in our Avast Secureline VPN review to find out!

Ease of Use Review

Installation and Setup

Avast Secureline Vpn Setup Install

As a newer VPN to enter the marketplace (and one that’s developed by the #1 antivirus software provider in the world), it seems that the engineers behind the Avast Secureline VPN app have learned from the mistakes of its predecessors in dozens of different ways.

First and foremost was the signup process. Unlike many VPNs which will require you to purchase a subscription with your credit card before you can even download the app (or make you sign in through a separate gateway to get to the download page if you’re already a member), Avast lets you download, install, and start using their app with only a few clicks in total.

Not only was installation of the app brutally simple, but it also let us get online without entering any credit card information. When you go to activate your connection for the first time, a window will pop up asking if you want to either start your free seven day trial or purchase an annual subscription (more on that later).

If you pick free trial the app will automatically connect you to the best server for your location, and you’re online! At no point between the download and getting connected to our first server did we have to enter our email address, set up an account, or hand over any sensitive financial details. Personally I love this kind of seamless integration of features that lets you get online and really give the service its due before handing over your credit card information, because oftentimes trying to cancel service once a VPN provider has your information is more difficult than pulling teeth.

Not only that, but all VPNs should let you get online before you buy a subscription considering one of the biggest problems they’re designed to protect against: hackers stealing your credit card information. With Avast you’re already protected before you hand over your data, which means you can be doubly sure that every aspect of the transaction is encrypted from back to front.

User Interface and Design

Avast Secureline Vpn Design

Like we mentioned in the first section, it seems from our experience that Avast has put a lot of work into streamlining the process of using a VPN on your desktop and laptop, sanding off all the rough edges and just getting you where you need to go as quick as it can get you there.

Everything about the Avast app on Windows was pretty minimal, leaving just a simple “Connect/Disconnect” button in the middle of an otherwise blank blue background. You can change the location of the server you want to connect to by choosing the option from the bottom of the app, which will take you to an equally-sleek server list complete with flags that correspond to the country you want to route to as well as the option to select a drop-down menu for any countries that offer multiple cities within the region.

There’s a separate tab for servers that offer P2P functionality, as well as another for the one server that lets you stream content in the US. This made it easy to get to the server type you wanted quickly, and also kept the list from getting too cluttered up with the options you don’t need depending on the application or site you’re trying to run.

Mobile App

Avast Secureline Review Mobile

Like its desktop counterpart, the mobile version of Avast Secureline VPN was both sleek and streamlined, and made it super simple to get everything installed and connected within a matter of minutes. Because we subscribed through the app itself rather than on a desktop (we’ll explain in more detail why that is down below), it was easy to get our subscription running through the iTunes App Store with one press of Touch ID.

The mobile app lets you select from all the same servers that are available on desktop, though you won’t find any distinction for “P2P-friendly” option here. That said the server list did still separate the video streaming friendly server (singular) into a separate category and also placed it right at the top of the list if that’s all you’re interested in getting out of your Avast VPN.

Like many other VPNs, the only security protocol offered by Avast Secureline VPN on iOS was IKEv2, which we have no problem with but we still would have liked to see a few additional options to choose from in this department.

Overall the mobile app did what it said it would and performed well above the curve in terms of performance and reliability, and there were very few instances (if any) where it even felt like the VPN was slowing down our speeds at all.

Supported Platforms

As far as platform compatibility goes, AvastVPN was far and away one of the most restrictive VPNs we’ve ever seen, only supporting a paltry three options including:

  • Windows XP and above
  • macOS
  • iOS (8.0 or newer)
  • Android
  • Chrome

If Avast wants to stay competitive with the big boys in this space, the company better be frantically working on more platforms to install Avast on. This includes at a bare minimum OSX, but we’d also like to see extensions on Firefox and Opera, as well as the option to install the VPN on a custom router firmware if you so choose.

Speed and Performance Review

Speedtest Results

In our speed testing on a simultaneous 1GB up/down fiber optic line from Portland, Oregon, we connected to four different servers offered by Avast Secureline VPN from all from different corners of the globe, and specifically in the cities of: New York, Singapore, London and LA. Each server test was run five times at specific intervals to see how the bandwidth was affected during off-peak hours (6AM local), peak (9PM local), and once more on a Monday, which is the busiest day for VPN providers collectively.

Even though Avast is the largest antivirus provider in the world, it’s obvious from their paltry server count of only 50 that the company still has a long way to go if they want to compete with the biggest providers in the space. That said there was still a healthy offering of P2P-enabled servers, which means if you want to use Avast Secureline VPN for torrents you shouldn’t run into any issues finding a node that’s near your location.

In London during peak hours at 9PM EST local, we found that off an average base speed of 374.71Mbps download and 32.01Mbps upload (tested before and after the 5 other VPN-based tests), Avast Secureline’s connection brought our average speeds down to just 78.32Mbps down, and 9.20Mbps up.

That’s a decrease of around 80% on the download side while the upload speed took a hit of around 72%. These certainly aren’t anywhere close to the worst results we’ve seen (particularly on the London servers), but it’s also a pretty decent hit for anyone who plans to do a lot of downloading or streaming on their connection and might be routing in from more than a few thousand miles away.

Speed reduction on distant servers aside, the overall performance of the Avast Secureline VPN app on both Windows and iPhone was exceptional, never once dropping a connection or showing any signs of laggy interruptions while switching from one server to the next (something that lesser VPNs struggle with to this day).

Finally, we give every VPN we review a shot to take our “best of the worst” challenge, which is a single speed test run on the closest possible server to our home base in Portland. While normally this would net the fastest time, the trick is we run it on Monday at 9PM PST, otherwise known as the worst possible commute hour (and day) for VPN networks on the West Coast.

In this test, Avast Secureline absolutely smoked the competition with an all-time high average of 305.84Mbps down and 103.86Mbps up from a server in Seattle, WA. This makes it the fastest VPN we've tested to date (take note Private Internet Access, there's a new kid in town).

Security and Privacy Review

Privacy Record

Because Avast is such a large company with so many different products, it was a bit difficult to pin down exactly how they handle VPN traffic specifically. That said after some digging we did find a small section on data policy in the Secureline FAQs, and according to that page the company doesn’t log any data on their users including the sites they visit, the services they use while connected to Secureline, or the information handed over when they purchase a subscription.

“We are publishing our first transparency report to provide details into all government requests seeking access to Avast customer data that we received in 2017. We are also publishing a Warrant Canary on a quarterly basis. We want our users to have visibility about the types of government agency requests we receive, the frequency of requests, and the disclosure rate. In 2017, we did not receive any requests from government intelligence agencies for customer data.
Our policy is to give data only when compelled by law.”
Avast Secureline Vpn Privacy Record

That said we did find some conflicting information posted on the company’s own 2017 Transparency Report, which claimed in that year the company complied with 28 requests by various global law enforcement agencies for user information. Of those 28 requests only one user had their data handed over, which essentially boiled down to an email account associated with the IP address they used to sign up with, given to authorities in the Czech Republic to assist in a criminal investigation.

“Avast SecureLine VPN product: We received 28 requests from law enforcement agencies from the following countries: Czech Republic (19 requests), France (3 requests), Italy (1 request), Germany (1 request), Poland (1 request), Sweden (1 request), The Netherlands (1 request), and the United States (1 request). For 27 of the requests, no data was disclosed. In 1 instance from the Czech Republic we did confirm an email address associated with an IP address for a criminal investigation.”

Perhaps the most surprising part of this report is that United States, generally the most egregious of all countries when it comes to data requests, only knocked on Avast’s door one time in all of 2017. We really like to see companies in the security space being transparent like this, and we can only hope that Avast continues to keep their Transparency Report up in the years to come.

It does bear mentioning however that although Avast seems to have been pretty stringent on acquiescing to law enforcement requests on their own Secureline VPN, the company also owns a majority stake in another popular VPN called HideMyAss!

Back in 2011 HMA was implicated in the takedown of the now infamous LulzSec hacker collective, known most notably for their breach of Sony Studios back in 2011. Apparently when the feds began their investigation they were able to trace some of the online activities of LulzSec members back to HMA-based IP addresses. Based out of the UK (a country with one of the most oppressive government surveillance policies in the world), it wasn’t long before HMA handed over everything they had on the members, which eventually led to their identification and arrest.

In a blog responding to the incident posted by HMA, the company was quoted as saying:

“Our VPN service and VPN services in general are not designed to be used to commit illegal activity. It is very naive to think that by paying a subscription fee to a VPN service you are free to break the law without any consequences.”

Given that Avast said in their own transparency report above that they’ve handed over data on nearly 40% of all the requests made by federal agencies, it’s worrisome to think that their owners (Avast) are in such close proximity and might be learning bad habits.

That said, Avast Secureline only has a comparatively paltry 4% disclosure rate (off .0001% of their total userbase) as of last year, which means that at least for the time being the likelihood of your data being handed over to any investigations is minimal at best.

Security Review

Avast Secureline VPN only supports two security protocols across all its devices: OpenVPN on UDP for desktops/laptops running either Windows or macOS, and IKEv2 on Android and iOS. This is a pretty big hit to the gut for anyone who prefers a bit more flexibility in their protocol picks, especially for those who struggle to get OpenVPN to function on their network or specific router model.

On our DNSLeakTest.com test of Secureline the app scored top marks, but DNSLeak.com found a leak in all four of its individual runs. IPLeak.net detected no leaks, and the proxy test went off without a hitch. WhatIsMyIPAddress results came back 100% squeaky clean, with our Seattle server putting us square in the middle of the city.  

Support Review

Customer Support

Avast Secureline Vpn Customer Support

As the single largest security company currently operating on the planet, we were expecting at least two options for customer support on the Secureline VPN product. Unfortunately we were sorely disappointed to only find a single contact form which emailed support, though if you want to pay for it you can subscribe to the Avast Total Care call-in line which will only (hah) cost you anywhere between $79.99 and $119.99 per call.

To be fair it seems like this option is reserved more for users of the antivirus suite of Avast products, though the fact that you have to pay those insane rates at all after you’ve already purchased an annual subscription seems like a bit much.

Regardless, after emailing support through the provided contact form last week, it has been five days and as of this writing we still have yet to receive a response. Already enough time has passed between the initial email and now to rank them at the bottom of the list for support results, but if it takes much longer they may take the actual bottom spot for the longest response times of any VPN provider we've reviewed thus far.


Editor's Update: We finally received a response back from Avast after over a week of waiting, and what we got back was essentially another message that demanded more waiting still when the company said "We have passed this concern onto our developers and will let you know when it's implemented". This non-answer only further solidified our assumption that Avast really needs to step up their game in the customer support department overall.

Extra Features

Although we normally have something to fill in this section when talking about other VPNs (even the most barebones options out there), unfortunately in the case of Secureline there’s not really anything to discuss. The app both on desktop and mobile are about as stripped down as you could imagine, and didn’t have any extra features to speak of between them.

Pricing Review

Pricing Tiers

Hoo boy, strap in because this is where things get more than just a little bit complicated. So to start this whole process off, I went to the Avast Secureline website and tried to purchase a straight up monthly subscription there. To my dismay I found that, at least from a desktop, the only option available at checkout was to purchase an annual subscription. These cost as follows:
   

  • For 1 PC it was: $59.99 for one year, $109.99 for two years, and $159.99 for three years
  • 3 PCs were $69.99 a year with a similar sliding scale through the annual purchases
  • And so on leading up to a license of 10 PCs for $99 a year

I could then go into the option to add other platforms to my plan for a flat fee of $9.99 each, whether that meant Android, iOS, or macOS (in the case of buying a Windows-based subscription).

Not complicated or convoluted enough for you? Don’t worry, Avast has it covered. Right before I was about to ding the company for exclusively offering annual subscriptions only, I downloaded the Avast app on my iPhone and saw that there was an option to sign up for three different plans:

  • $7.99 per month
  • $39.99 for six months
  • $59.99 for a year

I was then able to sign in on my iPhone (where it worked with no problems), and simultaneously sign in on my Windows PC under the same license and use both VPNs at the same time. This means that if you were to buy the subscription on your desktop browser, you’d end up paying $9.99 more per year and also be locked to an annual subscription all for the same service you could buy from your phone for $7.99 per month.

Oh but you thought we were finished? Nope. On desktop you can buy a 1-month or 1-year subscription to either the iOS-only or Android-only device plans for $2.99 a month or $9.99 a month respectively. The best part? These options don’t even display in the mobile app itself!

Suffice it to say this whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth, and goes to show that the company is doing more to cater to its mobile users than it is those connecting from a Windows or macOS device instead.

Payment Options

As if that whole mess wasn’t enough to rub salt in the wound of the subscription process, right now Avast only accepts a grand whopping total of two (count ‘em two) payment options: credit card or PayPal. No cryptocurrency, no wire transfer, no eCheck. Without any options to pay anonymously you kind of defeat the purpose of having a VPN in the first place, but ultimately I guess that’s neither here nor there.

Avast Secureline VPN Review: By the Numbers

12 Mo Price
59.99
14 Eyes Jurisdiction
No
Access to Website - China
Yes
Ad Track Blocker
Checked
Alexa Website Rank
810
Android Devices
Oreo - 8Nougat - 7Marshmallow - 6Lollipop - 5KitKat - 4.4Jelly Bean - 4.3Ice Cream Sandwich - 4.0
Browser Extensions
ChromeOpera
Business VPN
Yes
Claims "100% No Logs"
No
Claims to Work - China
Yes
Claims to Work - Netflix
Yes
DNS Leak Protection
Checked
Easy to Find Owners?
Yes
Enemy of the Internet Jurisdiction
No
Facebook Likes
4134101
Founding Year
1988
Free Trial
No
Free Version
Yes
Headquarters Location - Country
Czech Republic
iOS Devices
iOS 11iOS 10iOS 9iOS 8
Languages
ChineseEnglishFrenchGermanHebrewHindiItalianPolishPortugueseRussianSpanish
Logs
Bandwidth UsedConnection TimestampsIP Address
Max # of Connections
-
No of Total Locations
19
# of Countries
19
# of Languages
11
# of Platforms Supported
13
# of Protocols Offered
11
# of Servers
27
# of Setup Documents on Website
7
# of Troubleshooting Documents on Website
7
Payment Methods
PaypalVisaMastercardAmerican ExpressDiscover
Protocols
IKEv2L2TP/IPsecOpenVPNOpenVPN TCPOpenVPN UDPPPTPSOCKSSoft EtherSSHSSLSSTP
Refund Period Days
30
Support Offered
EmailLive ChatPhone
Torrenting
No
TrustPilot Rating
4 / 10
Twitter Followers
182000
Unlimited Bandwidth
Yes
Visit Home Page
https://www.avast.com/
VPN Service
Avast Secureline
WebRTC Leak Protection
Checked
Website QualSys SSL Rating
A

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