VPN Review: Avast SecureLine VPN
Over recent years, VPN tunnels have become a must for privacy-minded Internet users. As their popularity has grown, so too has their profitability, driving ever more software developers to toss their proverbial hats into the ring with their own solutions, either as standalone software or elements of larger security suites.
Avast, known as a leader in antivirus solutions, is one such provider, marketing its SecureLine VPN to anyone familiar with the rest of its portfolio. In this review, we'll take a look at what the VPN can do.
What Is Avast SecureLine VPN?
Avast SecureLine VPN represents an attempt by the Czech developer to build upon its well-deserved reputation in the world of antivirus thanks to its solid protection, variety of features, and user-friendliness. The company's Ultimate subscription plan comes with SecureLine VPN, however, it can also be purchased separately. Fo this review, we assessed the latter.
Pros and Cons
Easy to use
Smart VPN makes it possible to tailor the VPN's behavior
Includes split tunneling (mobile app)
Lacking in features
Small server network
Has not submitted to any security audits
Cannot be configured for routers
Installation and Features
Avast SecureLine VPN is available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. Browser extensions are offered for Google Chrome and the Avast Secure Browser while Android TV, Nvidia Shield TV, and the Mi Box are also supported. Beyond that though, other devices aren't compatible with the service.
You won't find guides for manually setting these up either, meaning that SecureLine can't be configured for routers or other devices not explicitly covered. Since the VPN has been on the market for a while, we also don't expect this to change in the near future, which is unfortunate.
It only takes a few moments to install the desktop client since, if taking advantage of the service's 7-day trial version, you won't have to create an account or input payment data. After downloading and installing the software, you're good to go.
You can create a VPN connection by clicking on the red On/Off switch.
Even though the user interface is less minimalistic than those of other services from our sample, it remains as easy to operate. To create a VPN tunnel, simply click on the main On/Off toggle. Underneath the switch, you'll be shown your real and, when connected to a VPN, virtual IP, as well as the duration of your connections.
When connected to a VPN, your virtual IP will be displayed.
Server Categories and Smart VPN
SecureLine VPN automatically establishes a connection with the best available server, however, you can manually select the server you'd like to connect to as well. All servers in the server list are arranged according to their region, with dedicated streaming and P2P servers marked as such. How the VPN performs when it comes to streaming is discussed below in the "Performance" section of this review.
Unfortunately, no option is provided for marking favorites, however, owing to the relatively small size of the server network, this isn't that big of a deal. It would be nice to be able to view more information about the performance of individual servers, but the client lacks both an integrated speed test, as well as real-time metrics.
SecureLine's server list is nothing to write home about.
Additional features, like an email leak check, can be accessed by clicking on the buttons in the upper-right of the interface.
Of these, Smart VPN is perhaps the most interesting: It automatically creates VPN connections based on your activity. To set rules for these, click on Settings > VPN Mode. An example of one rule would be for a VPN connection to automatically be created when you start to use torrents or connect to an unknown network. Rules for specific websites can also be added.
Smart VPN allows you to personalize your VPN connection.
Avast SecureLine VPN doesn't offer many features beyond that. You won't find split tunneling, for selecting which apps or websites use your VPN connection (and which don't), multi-hop (routes your connection through multiple VPN servers), be able to change your protocol, or take advantage of additional security features.
The paucity of integrated security tools can be explained rather logically: As the developer of a comprehensive security suite and a variety of other software options, Avast doesn't want its products to compete against one another. To 'help', a list of all Avast products is provided in the lower-right corner of the menu.
Avast cross-promotes its security solutions and SecureLine VPN is no exception.
Mobile Apps for Android and iOS
It's possible to test SecureLine VPN's mobile apps for seven days. Apart from the inclusion of split tunneling, few other surprises should be expected: Using the elegant and optimized app(s) is self-explanatory, with connections established within seconds.
Split tunneling makes it possible to select which apps should use your VPN tunnel and which stay on your regular network.
User-Friendly, but Underdeveloped
SecureLine VPN's desktop client and mobile apps are user-friendly and handle nicely, but they don't provide much beyond the essentials. Smart VPN allows you to personalize your connections, however, additional features like split tunneling or multi-hop are missing. Similarly, only the most common devices are supported, with routers not making the cut. Settings and options are bare-bones, with users unable to change protocols or set a DNS server.
Should you be looking for a variety of settings, SecureLine VPN is not your best choice. If you'd like an easy-to-use and straightforward VPN that works for your devices and/or operating system (double-check that it does), SecureLine VPN could meet your expectations.
Score: 3.3 / 5
Avast SecureLine VPN's server network isn't anything extraordinary, entailing 700 servers in 34 countries. As is standard practice among VPNs, most of these are in Europe and North America, with a few outliers in South Africa or Brazil being the sole representatives for each of these continents.
SecureLine's server network isn't very impressive.
Overall, SecureLine's server network is relatively under-developed, especially when compared to other providers, who offer more servers and/or better global coverage. Since the service isn't a newcomer, we don't expect any significant improvements in the near future.
Score: 2.7 / 5
Usually, we measured the speed of VPNs from our sample using a server in Europe with a 1 GB/s connection (for more information on our methodology, see our VPN speed test). As SecureLine VPN didn't allow us to change protocols or make OpenVPN available manually, we couldn't assess the service in our usual manner.
Instead, we manually evaluated the provider's performance, clocking the following speeds:
We reached high speeds during manual testing.
To compare: Without a VPN we reached an upload speed of 11.47 MB/s, and a download speed of 213.25 MB/s, meaning that with a VPN, we used 92% of the available bandwidth. As such, SecureLine's VPN tunnels provided excellent speeds.
With that said, our regular speed test assesses services over an extended period of time, providing more than just a one-off snapshot, and something far more representative. To compare SecureLine VPN's speed to other providers, we've included a list below:
Great for Everday Usage, Less so for Streaming
For everyday usage, SecureLine VPN reinforced the good impression its speeds left. Connections were quickly established, stable, and didn't suffer from unexpected interruptions. We also didn't have to contend with any of the annoying side-effects of VPN usage, like captchas when performing Google searches.
We were less thrilled with how the service tackled video streaming. We weren't able to access foreign content with either Amazon Prime Video or Disney+, however, we had no difficulties doing so with Netflix and the BBC's iPlayer.
VPNs are particularly useful in countries where the Internet is severely restricted. Unfortunately, we can't recommend SecureLine VPN for your next trip to China, since we were unable to establish a connection using it. Other providers, like NordVPN, Windscribe, or Hotspot Shield have no trouble doing this.
We found SecureLine VPN's everyday performance to be excellent, however, it was only decent at streaming, and not at all useful for circumventing Internet restrictions.
Score: 4.3 / 5
Security and Privacy
As a digital middleman for your data, VPN services have the ability to gather quite a bit of information about you and your behavior. For this reason, unequivocal and transparent privacy and data protection policies are important. Regarding this topic, Avast has the following to say:
Connection timestamps, the IP address of the VPN server you use, the amount of data transferred, and the sub-net of your original IP address are saved. These shouldn't reveal much about your activity or persona, but SecureLine VPN does gather somewhat more data than its competitors.
No Audits Despite Past Issues
Compounding this, Avast, SecureLine VPN's producer, had a few issues with privacy in the past. According to Vice, one its subsidiaries, Jumpshot, collected and sold large amounts of user browser data to companies like Google, Microsoft, McKinsey, Pepsi, and Yelp.
Even though the company apologized, a scandal of this magnitude should have provided enough motivation to conduct an external security audit. Other VPN providers regularly undergo audits - to date, Avast hasn't.
As a small consolation, the Czech-based company does regularly publish transparency reports. Reading between the lines, it's possible to infer that the company has already provided user information to authorities if legally mandated. With other VPNs based in more safe harbors, you won't need to worry about the risk of this.
No Leaks, High Security
No leaks were identified during testing.
Avast makes use of AES 256 to encrypt all connections. In terms of protocols, Windows and Android users benefit from OpenVPN (UDP), while macOS users get IPsec. It isn't possible to change protocols, meaning that the new gold standard, WireGuard, is not supported. Avast justifies this by indicating its desire to only support proven protocols.
Score: 3 / 5
Avast's support center includes a neatly arranged list of topics that can be searched through. The FAQs are logically grouped and sorted by operating system, making it easier to find precisely what you're looking for. In the forum, sub-forums for each Avast product are provided, offering a de facto dedicated platform for seeking assistance.
Direct support is only available via contact form as the company lacks a hotline or live chat. We waited longer than 48 hours for an answer to our query, which, in light of the lack of other means of contacting the support team, is far from ideal.
Avast can only be reached in writing.
So far as direct support is concerned, Avast seems to have cut a few corners. Other providers do better here, either offering a live chat, hotline, call back service, or some combination of these. While waiting for Avast's support team to respond to your query, you might be able to solve the issue on your own in the service's help center.
Score: 3.7 / 5
SecureLine VPN's pricing is not particularly complicated, with the service available in yearly, two-year, and three-year subscriptions, each of which costs less (per month) than the one preceding it. Each subscription also includes the ability to connect 10 devices and make use of the same features.
However, when registering our subscription in the app, we were shown much cheaper prices than those on Avast's website. For that reason, make sure to start with the trial version, and compare the prices shown in its app before concluding your purchase.
A current price list can be found below:
|2 years||1 year|
|Base price per month||$3.99||$4.99|
|Contract period (months)||24||12|
|Number of Devices||10||10|
|Number of servers||700||700|
|Number of countries||34||34|
|No server logs|
In addition to its standalone version, SecureLine VPN is also included in Avast's Ultimate package. This comes with a 30-day, money-back guarantee.
We didn't uncover any grave issues with SecureLine VPN during testing. It's easy to use, performs well, and has decent support. As just one of Avast's many products, it didn't come as much of a surprise that its server network isn't all that developed, or that it lacks features and settings common to other providers. The company's plan to add a VPN to its portfolio makes sense, but SecureLine VPN doesn't offer anything that its competitors are missing, or do anything better for that matter.
In terms of privacy and data security we have some misgivings about Avast since, in the past, one of its subsidiaries monetized user data. The easiest way to clear its name would be to submit to an external audit.
Despite SecureLine VPN not performing better than most other providers, it also didn't slip up. In terms of performance, we were actually impressed with what the service could do. For anyone who can live with the features, server network, and supported devices, SecureLine is a safe choice.
Although customers rate Avast as "very good", these apply to the company as a whole rather than SecureLine VPN.
Should you be after a VPN offering more features and settings, we recommend taking a look at hide.me, which combines ease of use with a wide variety of options.
On the other hand, if you're searching for a top-performing VPN that offers reliable video streaming and can be used in China, NordVPN and ExpressVPN are excellent choices. As the cherry on top, they also regularly submit to (and pass) external security audits.
The best alternatives can be found here:
- Private Internet Access
- Hotspot Shield
- IPVanish VPN
- Mullvad VPN
- VPN Unlimited
- Avast SecureLine
- Perfect Privacy
- Avira Phantom
- Free VPN
- Best VPN
- ... for Chrome
- ... for Firefox
- ... for Germany
- ... for USA
- ... for Italy
- ... for China
- ... for France
- ... for Prime Video
- ... for Netflix
- ... for Disney+
- ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN