Avast SecureLine VPN Review
A VPN, or a virtual private network, is an effective way of shielding your identity online, and there are dozens of VPN options available for free or at a range of subscription rates. Launched in 2014, SecureLine is a worthy addition to the market from Avast, a leading antivirus company that’s been around since the late 1980s. In this review, we’re going to get down to the nitty-gritty with Avast SecureLine so you can see for yourself if it’s a product worth trusting.
What We Liked and Didn’t Like About Avast SecureLine
Reviews of VPNs can be a bit exhaustive because there are so many different tests we put the services through. Before we get into those details, let’s first take a top-line look at Avast SecureLine and pick out some features that impressed us, and areas where the service was lacking.
- Call-in Customer Support: Since SecureLine is an Avast—a major antivirus software company—product, they back up customers with phone support that we found anomalous for the industry and reliable to boot.
- Automatic Action: There are a number of VPNs that require us to turn them on when we begin browsing—sure, it’s just a click of the mouse and we’re covered—but we appreciated SecureLine’s ability to turn on automatically when we booted our computers or when we were connected to reliably unreliable public Wi-Fi networks.
- Solid Speed Test Results: Generally speaking, deploying a VPN will slow your Internet speed (more on that later), but we found Avast SecureLine to be on the faster side of the VPN spectrum, especially when we tested it on a Mac.
- Limited Server Count and Locations: While SecureLine offers server locations in 35 countries, their server count only totals about 700, which pales in comparison to some of their competitors.
- Limited-to-No Netflix Capability: Though Netflix has been cracking down on VPN usage1 across the board, services like SecureLine, a.k.a VPNs with a more limited server footprint, have been hardest hit, so we couldn’t Netflix and Chill with Avast.
- Inflexible Subscription Plans: SecureLine offers annual, two-year, and three-year pricing, which we found to be inconvenient for users that prefer month-to-month contracts. Read more about Avast VPN’s pricing.
Mapping SecureLine’s Footprint
As we mentioned, Avast is a bigger name in the antivirus industry. In fact, it’s the second most popular antivirus software on earth, comprising nearly 12% of the global market share.2 Avast was founded in 1988 and maintains its headquarters in the Czech Republic. While the Czech government isn’t explicitly a member of the international surveillance alliances Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or 14 Eyes, which would require them to share customer data with the federal government if asked, they have cooperated in the past. Avast’s 2019 transparency report says they, on one occasion, they did provide confirmatory VPN user data3 to Czech law enforcement. It is nice to know that the country broadly doesn’t make surveillance its number one priority, but their history of sharing customer data is definitely concerning to us.
Of course, a VPN’s footprint isn’t just limited to where their headquarters are located; it also includes the size of their server network and where those servers can be found. When using a VPN, we tend to side with services that offer the highest number of servers in the most locations, because that typically means they can offer the highest number of users fast, reliable protection. SecureLine has 700 servers spread across 35 countries, which is not a huge offering, especially when we factor in that many of the countries included only feature servers in one city. However, we did like the fact that SecureLine had server offerings in South America and Africa (each with only one city represented), since those regions are sometimes overlooked by VPNs. Our point? Check to make sure that they have a server near you before buying Avast SecureLine.
A Quick Note: The United States has the largest number of cities with Avast servers, 15 in total.
Taking a Look at What SecureLine Has to Offer
Now that we’ve taken more of a broad view of Avast SecureLine, let’s get down to some of the specifics of the VPN and see what it has to offer.
- Server Selection: One thing that impressed us about SecureLine was their server selection interface. Of course, many VPNs offer a way to choose which country’s servers we’d like to adopt for our IP address, but we found their display simple and easy to navigate. Using the VPN in Brooklyn, New York, SecureLine displayed the recommended location to give us the fastest service, which made the whole process a breeze.
- Torrent Capabilities: Torrenting is always a dicey proposition, and there’s nothing more nerve-racking than receiving a DMCA notice from your Internet Service Provider. Obviously we can’t advocate illegal torrenting, but legal torrenting is a nice feature that SecureLine supports; and it enabled us to catch up on the latest season of Killing Eve risk-free. On a more technical level, the VPN offers Bittorrent coverage as well as peer-to-peer connections through data centers in these locations:
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Frankfurt, Germany
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- New York City, New York
- Miami, Florida
- Seattle, Washington
- London, United Kingdom
- Paris, France
- Customizable Settings: One thing we really liked about SecureLine was how we were able to go into the settings and create scenarios that would engage the VPN. We set the service to begin when our PC booted up, but we were also given the option to engage the VPN when we went on public Wi-Fi or other unrecognized networks.
- Kill Switch: SecureLine VPN also offers a kill switch, which automatically terminated our online activity when it sensed our connection was about to drop. We tested this VPN in Brooklyn on a notoriously unreliable, spotty Internet service (namely, the one at our apartment), and sure enough, SecureLine shut down activity when our connection was inevitably lost.
Word to the Wise: SecureLine’s kill switch is available on their PC version, but isn’t available on the mobile version of the service. This is important to keep in mind if you’re expecting a VPN kill switch to jump into action when you’re using your phone to surf the web on a public Wi-Fi network, for example.
A Bit About SecureLine’s Encryption and Privacy
One of the aspects of SecureLine we were sold on was their level of encryption. SecureLine is built on the OpenVPN open-source protocol, which is the industry standard. Their level of encryption is AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) 256, which is the best in the business; banks and military institutions commonly use this level of encryption to protect data. Overall, we’re impressed with how they guarded our vital information.
Their privacy standards, however, are a bit more of a grey area. One of the things we appreciated about Avast was their dedication to transparency. The company goes to great lengths to provide their customers with details about how their data is used. However, SecureLine does have some slight issues when it comes to privacy.
In order to create an account, there are a couple identifying pieces of information like our email address and username which the company stores. Of course, this information is standard when creating most accounts, so no huge fault to Avast on this one.
As far as actual activity, SecureLine logged a portion of our IP address, the IP address of the VPN server we connected to, the amount of data we used with the VPN, and the timestamps of our usage. Avast claims that all of this data is collected to track server maintenance as well as gauge server capacity, yet when we factor in that Avast ran into some trouble in early 2020 for selling anonymized data4 to advertisers, it’s enough to give us pause (though it is important to note that the data they used wasn’t pulled from their VPN service).
Though the service does admit to this relatively low-level logging, they are expressly opposed to logging any websites we visited, apps we used, or content we viewed. Overall that’s about as much as we’ve come to expect from VPNs. While Avast SecureLine isn’t perfect with privacy, they’re certainly not the most egregious when it comes to handling customer data.
Looking at SecureLine’s Leak Potential
Since we’re on the topic of privacy and security or the lack thereof, let’s take a quick look at how Avast SecureLine handled DNS and WebRTC leak tests.
DNS, or domain name server, is a more generalized way of organizing IP addresses, and if your VPN isn’t covering DNS data, it can reveal IP or location information which renders the entire service less effective overall.
Thankfully, we found that Avast’s claim that the SecureLine VPN “keeps your real IP under wraps over IPv4 and blocks IPv6 requests” to be true, and we discovered no leaks.
WebRTC is a system of technologies that computers use to enable browsers to communicate directly with one another, say during a video chat. Like DNS, WebRTC leaks can expose your private IP address without you even realizing it.
We didn’t find any vulnerabilities in our testing when the service was running, so a bonus point there.
Testing Avast SecureLine VPN’s Speed
Since VPNs route our activity to a separate server, in almost all cases we expect some slowdown in our service. Of course, speed tests are always a bit of a crapshoot, as the devices and Internet connections we use for our tests can vary wildly from what any other user might have in their homes. That said, let’s take a look at what our speed test results revealed about SecureLine’s Service.
Here are our test results on a Mac without the VPN running.
And here are results with the VPN turned on.
And here is what we got with a Windows PC without the VPN running.
And here are our speed results with SecureLine operating.
As we can see, speed tests on Mac actually showed a 15 percent increase in download speeds while the VPN was running, while upload speeds were degraded by 54 percent. On Windows, however, we found our service to be slowed down significantly, with a 57 percent degradation of download speeds and a ping time that slowed more than 17 times. So overall, Avast was much faster on Macs than it was on Windows, in our testing.
Avast SecureLine Pricing
As we mentioned earlier, one of the less-than-ideal things about Avast SecureLine is their rigid pricing structure. When we’re in the market for a VPN, we want to know that the service we’re getting provides the protection we need in a convenient way that doesn’t make our Internet super slow. As a result, having a service that offers month-to-month pricing options is a great way to gauge if it’s the right VPN for our purposes. Unfortunately, SecureLine only offers one, two, and three-year commitments, billed upfront.
SecureLine VPN offers plans for an individual device or up to five devices. The ability to cover multiple devices is a great option for outfitting an entire household with the security of a VPN. Let’s take a quick look at how the prices break down.
|Maximum Number of Devices||Term Length||Monthly Cost||Total Amount Billed|
One nice addition to SecureLine was that in lieu of offering a 30-day trial that required us to enter our credit card information, we could try the VPN for seven days completely risk-free; we didn’t need to provide them with payment information to test it out.
Note: The seven-day free trial worked for the computer-based version of SecureLine VPN only. So if you were hoping to test it out on your phone, there isn’t a free trial offer for that service.
Overall, does Avast SecureLine rank among the best VPNs out there? No, it does not. Yet, there is something to be said for those who want a trusted name in the antivirus and security industry behind the products they use. SecureLine offers the basics we’d want out of a VPN, and it’s easy to use. While speed tests may reveal some lag, especially on Windows, the convenience of the service manages to keep SecureLine in play as a solid middle of the pack VPN.
We’d recomment SecureLine for:
- Those users who like having a name they can trust behind a product; especially those who want to be able to get in touch with the company over the phone when they need them.
- Users who like a simple interface that can be set to launch with their computer or when they’re on unknown networks.
- Users who want a VPN that supports torrenting and P2P use.
We wouldn’t suggest SecureLine if:
- You’re extremely vigilant about privacy policies and worry that any data collected is a risk.
- You require a more flexible pricing structure where you can cancel your service after a month or two.
- You want to use your VPN to explore Netflix offerings in other countries.
Independent. (2016). Netflix responds to the VPN ban backlash: ‘It's really inconsequential to us'.
Statista. (2020). Market share held by the leading Windows anti-malware application vendors worldwide, as of April 2020.
Reuters. (2019). Avast target of cyber-security attack, company and Czech counterintelligence say.
Vice. (2020). Leaked Documents Expose the Secretive Market for Your Web Browsing Data.