Jumpshot would repackage and sell the data to the highest bidder.
On January 30, 2020, Avast announced that it would discontinue the practice.
While this was about its antivirus products, it certainly doesn’t fill me with confidence when looking at its VPN offering.
But let’s keep an open mind and see where we end up.
So in this Avast Secure VPN review, we’re going to try and answer questions like:
- Is AVG a good for streaming (Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC, Hulu etc)?
- What data does AVG collect about its users?
- Is AVG’s VPN too expensive?
- How fast is AVG Secure VPN compared to other VPNs?
- Is it as good as ExpressVPN or NordVPN?
AVG Secure VPN Summary
AVG Key Data
|OVERALL RANK: #38 of 45 VPNs|
|Average Speed *:||50 Mbps|
|Video Streaming Support:||4K UHD|
|Other Streaming Services:||ITVHub|
|Encryption Type:||256-bit AES|
|Log Policy:||No logs, but collects various data|
|Protocols:||OpenVPN, IPsec (IKEv2)|
|Value for Money||
|Lowest Monthly Cost:||$3.99|
|Money Back Guarantee:||30 days|
AVG Secure VPN pros and cons
- Good speeds
- Appears to work in China
- Unblocks some Netflix libraries
- VPN kill switch
- Decent prices
- Website sorely lacking in information on its service
- Supported protocols vary by platform
- Parent company’s data collection past can understandably put VPN users off
- Collects more data than its competitors
- Privacy practices could be tightened
- Fewer features than other VPN providers
- No monthly pricing. If you go in, you’re in for at least a year
Speed: Is AVG Secure VPN fast?
I performed some speed tests while connected to AVG’s servers. And AVG clearly isn’t the fastest VPN service I’ve seen. The speeds decreased as the servers I connected to were farther away, just as you’d expect. But the speeds were already rather low when connected to a nearby server. If your ISP connection runs at 100Mbps and you connect to a server that’s close to your actual physical location, you may not feel it that much if just browsing the web. For a more bandwidth-intensive activity like torrenting or streaming, you’ll feel it. And as soon as you start connecting to servers further away, you’ll feel it even more.
Testing was done using OpenVPN over UDP. Here are the average values per region:
- North America (where I am located): 82 Mbps
- Asia: 14 Mbps
- Europe: 54 Mbps
Global average: 50 Mbps
Speed for gaming
Normally, to test a VPN’s performance with online gaming, I set up the VPN client on my router (pfSense). That way, my PS4 is automatically routed through the VPN simply by being connected to my router. But AVG Secure VPN doesn’t make its CA certificate available and so setting it up in pfSense is not possible. You can only use AVG Secure VPN via the apps.
So, I set up internet sharing from my Mac and was able to share my VPN with my PS4 that way. It’s better to connect your console with an ethernet cable to get the maximum possible bandwidth and not have to deal with potentially fiddly WiFi. But that wasn’t possible here.
Still, gaming performance was quite good. Though some games did display a ping time that was significantly higher than what I usually see. Nonetheless, I only got occasional freeze-ups, that were actually few and far between.
I was, as is recommended for online gaming, connected to a server close to my actual physical location. And it was quite good. Had I been able to set it up on my router and used a wired connection, it likely would have been even better.
See also: Best VPN for online gaming
AVG SecureLine VPN Pricing
AVG only offers one, two, or three-year subscriptions. Its two and three-year subscriptions come up to the same monthly price. Here’s the breakdown of AVG Secure VPN pricing:
- One year: $59.88 – works out to $4.99/month
- Two years: $95.76 – works out to $3.99/month
- Three years: $143.64 – works out to $3.99/month
AVG also offers a seven-day free trial that doesn’t require a payment method to use. So you can try it risk-free and without giving up your valuable payment information.
The prices aren’t bad. But I know that I’d rather start by purchasing a single month to make sure I’m happy with the VPN service before committing to the service for a year (or more).
Each subscription comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and allows up to five simultaneous connections.
AVG Secure VPN Coupons
Here’s the latest AVG VPN coupon.
Apps: Supported platforms
AVG Secure VPN provides apps for the following operating systems:
And that’s it. No Linux support. No router support.
The AVG apps only support either OpenVPN or IPsec (IKEv2), based on your OS.
AVG supports OpenVPN only, on Windows and Android. And it supports IKEv2 only, on macOS and iOS. No WireGuard support on any platform.
I’m on macOS, so that means my app is using IKEv2 and I cannot choose to use OpenVPN.
Windows and Android use OpenVPN, with no option for IKEv2. In its FAQ, AVG claims that OpenVPN can run over UDP on port 553 or over TCP on port 443. But the following question in the FAQ asks “What protocols does AVG Secure VPN use”?, and the answer is OpenVPN over UDP… So, TCP support is unclear. Running OpenVPN over TCP can be beneficial sometimes in order to circumvent restrictive firewalls.
I looked at the Windows version of the app and I found no setting allowing me to change ports or protocol (TCP/UDP).
The app’s design reflects the VPN service it comes from: it has very few options. And that at least makes it easy to use.
When you launch the app for the first time, you can either sign in, if you purchased an account. Or you can test it for free (without handing over your credit card number) for seven days. That’s pretty cool.
Other than that, your only other option in the app’s main window is to select a VPN server to connect to.
All of AVG’s VPN servers provide you with a shared IP address. That means that the traffic of all users connected to the same network is mixed together. This is better for privacy as it makes it more difficult to trace traffic to a specific user.
On macOS, if you want to access the app’s settings, you need to click the menu bar applet and select Preferences. Why there isn’t a Preferences button in the app, I couldn’t tell you. But it would be a welcome addition. The Windows version of the app has the preferences button in the app itself.
There are three Preferences pages:
- Network Security
The General settings page is where you can enable or disable notifications from the app, choose to display the AVG Secure VPN applet in your menu bar, and select whether to start AVG Secure VPN when you boot-up your computer.
There’s also an option to update to beta versions of AVG’s VPN app, at the bottom.
And right above that is a section entitled Personal Privacy that irked me a little bit. So there are two options in this section:
Show offers for our other products – which is another way of saying “Enable the display of ads for our products in the app”. That’s not something I want to see in a VPN app.
Third-party crash reporting. Again, not something I want to see in a VPN app. I don’t think an app designed to protect your privacy should make any third-party API calls.
And what irked me was the fact that both of these options were enabled by default. I had to go into the Preferences to disable them. Not the most privacy-preserving configuration I’ve seen…
The subscription page is where you can view your current subscription, buy a new subscription, or activate an already purchased subscription. And we’ll look at the Network Security settings page when we discuss AVG and security a bit later.
AVG Secure VPN and routers
As I mentioned in the Speed section, it isn’t possible to set up AVG VPN on your router. For that to be possible, AVG would need to make its CA certificate available for download, and provide more details on its client configurations for OpenVPN.
Streaming… and Netflix
Netflix has been banning VPNs since January of 2016. It took this step because it is compelled by licensing agreements to enforce the geo-restrictions imposed by content creators and distributors. It’s an extreme response, to be sure. But it did solve Netflix’s problem.
However, it would appear that Netflix has relaxed its VPN policy a little bit. According to TorrentFreak, Netflix may be allowing VPN users to access content that isn’t geo-restricted. And that pretty much means shows produced by Netflix itself. So to test whether a VPN really works with Netflix, we need to look for geo-restricted content to see if the full Netflix library is available or not. If only a subset of Netflix’s library is available to you, you and your VPN connection were allowed in. Your VPN didn’t unblock anything.
AVG Secure VPN doesn’t mention streaming services in its marketing. However, the app has a category for streaming servers. There are five dedicated streaming servers and I tested them all. These are:
- Frankfurt, Germany
- Wonderland, UK
- Gotham City, US
- Miami, US
- New York, US
All of the above locations successfully unblocked Netflix, except for the UK server.
So I would say that your odds of unblocking Netflix with AVG Secure VPN are quite good. But if you want access to other Netflix libraries, you may need to look elsewhere. Still, 4 out of 5 is pretty good.
So streaming is a bit of a mixed bag with AVG. It’s quite good with Netflix, but not so much with other streaming services.
Does AVG allow torrenting?
AVG Secure VPN allows P2P file-sharing on a subset of its servers. These are:
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Frankfurt, Germany
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- New York City, New York
- Miami, Florida
- Seattle, Washington
- London, United Kingdom
- Paris, France
In my experience, torrenting over AVG’s network was smooth and gave me good download speeds. I didn’t experience any issues while torrenting over AVG.
See also: Best VPNs for Torrenting
Does AVG support Split Tunneling?
Split tunneling, or selective routing, lets you choose where you route your traffic: through the VPN or over your ISP connection. So, you could choose to only send your P2P traffic through the VPN, while sending the rest out through your ISP connection. Or conversely, you could send all of your traffic through the VPN, except your Netflix traffic, for instance. Split tunneling is generally quite flexible and can accommodate almost any scenario.
AVG Secure VPN does not support split tunneling at this time.
See also: Best VPNs for split tunneling
Security, privacy, and logs
The Network Security page, in AVG’s app, enables us to set some security-related parameters. So this is where you can enable the VPN to auto-connect when you’re connected to the internet. Or you can also choose to have the app ask you to enable the VPN when you’re connected to the internet. Disabling both options will require you to manually connect the VPN when you want to use it.
You can also exclude trusted networks from here. A trusted network is a network over which you don’t want to connect to the VPN. For example, someone may want the VPN to be enabled at a coffee shop but not when they’re at home, using their own network. To do that, you would need to add your home network to the Trusted Networks list.
To add your home network as a trusted network, first, connect to the network you want to set as a trusted network. Then, from the Network Security page, click the Trusted Networks button. An overlay window is displayed with your current WiFi network listed. Simply click the Add to Trusted Networks button and you’re done.
If you want to enable the VPN everywhere except your trusted networks, you can go ahead and enable “Automatically when connected to the Internet”, under Turn on the VPN. Make sure you deselect “Ask me to turn on the VPN when connected to the Internet”, as it becomes useless.
Under that, we have the option to activate AVG’s VPN kill switch. A kill switch blocks all packets from exiting your device in the event that the VPN disconnects. That, in conjunction with the option to automatically enable the VPN when connected to the internet, will block all packets if the VPN should ever disconnect and will automatically attempt to reconnect.
However, something irked me here as well: The kill switch was disabled by default. I think most users would benefit from the kill switch being enabled. It would make more sense to me to have it enabled by default and have the users who don’t want it enabled to go in the Preferences to disable it, rather than the other way around.
Let’s turn to AVG’s policies now.
First, AVG Secure VPN is based in the Czech Republic, outside of the 14 Eyes nations. So that may reassure some. Although I believe the logging policy is more important than jurisdiction, because if your VPN provider doesn’t log and sets up its infrastructure for no-logging, then it would have nothing to share anyway. That’s what happened to U.S.-based VPN provider, Private Internet Access. Because it didn’t log, it had nothing to share when the Feds knocked on its door.
So, connection timestamps, source IP addresses, server IP addresses and consumed bandwidth… That’s a lot of data in my book. It’s kind of funny to me that AVG introduces this section by stating: “If you use our VPN service, we strictly collect the minimum amount of information needed to provide and operate our VPN service, as well as keep it running safely and efficiently”. But maybe I’m just not used to living in a post-truth world…
Then, under that, there’s a tiny little section in which AVG lists what it doesn’t collect.
But that still leaves a lot of info to collect. And I really wish AVG didn’t collect source IP addresses at all.
The rest of the policy simply details what AVG collects. And it collects quite a bit.
Sure, you can opt-out, but that collection is enabled by default. And again, I can appreciate AVG’s candidness, but I’d still rather it didn’t collect all that data from their “privacy” product…
In terms of the encryption used by AVG, it’s the tried & tested AES-256 cipher. It’s used whether connecting with OpenVPN or IPsec (IKEv2).
Our IP leak tests show that AVG Secure VPN isn’t leaking.
As do our DNS leak tests.
AVG Secure VPN provides in-tunnel, no-logging VPN servers. We recommend you use them as using your VPN provider’s internal DNS servers is the best way to avoid DNS leaks. Plus, you couldn’t change it even if you wanted to. AVG does not support custom DNS servers.
Multihop servers route your traffic through a second VPN server, which adds a second layer of encryption to your traffic. Multihop or cascaded VPNs make you significantly more difficult to track and identify because of the extra hop(s).
AVG Secure VPN does not support multihop servers at this time.
I was a bit surprised, while researching this review, that AVG Secure VPN doesn’t provide a VPN server list on its website. I wanted to know how many servers it had and whether they were owned or rented.
I found an exchange between a user and AVG’s customer support about this:
So, apparently, to find out how many servers it has in its network, I’ll have to count them from within the app… And I did.
AVG Secure VPN provides:
- 55 servers in 34 countries
- 5 streaming servers
- 8 P2P servers
Unfortunately, other than looking inside the app, there’s no way to get information on AVG’s servers. And the app doesn’t provide much information other than the existence of the server and its location. No latency test, no status (online/offline), and no server load information either. That’s really too bad. But it’s not hard to fix. We hope AVG fills this gap in the future.
Does AVG Secure VPN work in China?
Well, I’m not in China, so this is not something I can test directly. And, unfortunately, AVG’s website isn’t the most informative out there. So I went through the support forum to find out. And from what I gathered, it appears that AVG does work in China, though not always (which is to be expected).
See also: What’s the best VPN for China?
How good is AVG Secure VPN’s customer support?
I decided to write to AVG’s support team to find out how good or bad their customer service was, and to fill in some gaps about their servers.
However, there was no way for me to simply email AVG. I eventually found my way to the “Official AVG Support” page. There was no email option, but there was an option for chat and phone. I opted for the chat. I was asked for the product I was inquiring about, my name and my email address, and when I clicked “Contact Us”, I got this:
I then realized that AVG’s customer support team answers the questions posted on the community forum. So I posted my question there and got an answer very quickly. It took them less than an hour to get back to me.
I asked about the number of servers AVG has in its network and whether it owned or rented them.
AVG’s answer was courteous and helpful, though not ideal:
We’re glad to help you with the info.
Since, Avast has acquired AVG, the servers will be the same & you can check the servers info in this page.
We’ve our own servers & rented few servers in few regions as well.
Thank you for your understanding in advance!
To see the entire conversation, click: https://support.avg.com/answers?id=9065p000000gjNz
Yeah, I pretended my name was Bobby…
But the point is that AVG shares its infrastructure with Avast. And Avast owns some of its servers and rents others.
Do I recommend AVG Secure VPN?
No. I don’t. And for a few reasons.
Then there’s the feature list, which is rather small. This is a screenshot of what’s displayed on AVG Secure VPN’s website when you click “View all features” on the website’s main page:
It’s not huge in itself. And if you compare it to rival VPN providers, it’s pretty tiny.
Then there’s the fact that there’s hardly any information available on its website. I had to rummage through a bunch of support posts to confirm that AVG runs its own in-tunnel, no-logging DNS servers. You’d think that with such an anemic feature list, AVG would be eager to put everything it can on there, but no.
This one may not seem like a big deal, but it very much feels amateurish that the VPN protocols AVG supports vary by platform. So OpenVPN for Windows and Android and IPsec (IKEv2) for macOS and iOS. Why? Every other VPN provider I know supports the same VPN protocols across all supported platforms. It just doesn’t seem to make sense to me.
And finally, while the price isn’t bad, there’s no monthly pricing. So you either have to buy a one, two, or three-year subscription. And that’s a big ask for a provider who gives so little in return.
On the plus side, it does unblock Netflix on four out of five of its dedicated streaming servers. And that’s not bad. But compare that to NordVPN and it’s not that great either.
Speeds were OK. But if you have a very fast internet connection (200 to 400 Mbps), you’re going to feel the slowdown a lot.
The big thing going for it is that it appears to work in China and AVG seems dedicated to making sure that works. So if you’re based in China, AVG may well be a good option for you. But there are others that can do that for you while giving you more privacy and features to boot.
I think the big problem here is not that AVG is a terrible VPN company. It’s that there are no areas in which it has an edge over the competition. So it becomes very difficult to recommend.
AVG has room to grow and it has room for improvement. Let’s see where it goes.
AVG Secure VPN alternatives
ExpressVPN is one of the larger players in the commercial VPN market and benefits from an excellent reputation. Its privacy and security practices are extremely good. All of the VPN servers run from volatile memory (RAM) and are booted from read-only disks. This setup essentially guarantees that no remnant data (logs) can exist on the system’s hard drives, which is great for user privacy. ExpressVPN is a little more expensive than most providers out there, but it’s fast, secure, it unblocks streaming sites, and it works in China.
Surfshark is another good provider. I’ve never seen a high-quality VPN service that costs so little. A subscription can be purchased for as little as $1.99/month. Surfashark adheres to a strict no-logging policy, only supports secure protocols, unblocks streaming services, and works in China. Surfshark also allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections.
How does AVG Secure VPN compare to other popular VPNs?
Here’s a comparison between AVG Secure VPN and two of the most well-known and highly rated VPN providers, ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access.
|AVG Secure VPN||ExpressVPN||Private Internet Access|
|Average speed *Average speed in Mbps||50 Mbps||135 Mbps||68 Mbps|
|Encryption TypeType of encryption e.g. 256 AES||256-bit AES||256-bit AES||128-bit AES|
|Kill SwitchDoes it have a kill switch?||desktop only|
|Allows Torrenting||On a subset of its servers|
|Records Identifying Logs||No logs, but collects various data|
|Unblocks Netflix US|
|Unblocks Amazon Prime|
|Unblocks BBC iPlayer|
|Lowest monthly cost||$3.99 per month||$6.67 per month||$2.69 per month|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days||30 days|