WHAT’S IN THIS REVIEW?
While there are plenty of VPNs to choose from, no two providers are the same. And even if you pay a premium (fee) to use it, that doesn’t mean it’s worth the hype.
For instance, take AVG Secure VPN. It claims to provide ‘unrestricted worldwide access to content’ and ‘encrypted online activity.’ Yet, their invasive logging practices and barebones features leave much to be desired from users.
Before we rank AVG Secure VPN overall, we’ll dissect its many critical elements that may or may not be deal breakers for you.
A byproduct of its parent company AVG, AVG Secure VPN is a simple VPN solution that works alright for casual users. However, as we’ll demonstrate below, there’s still much to be desired when it comes to this antivirus giant turned VPN provider.
AVG Secure VPN is known for its decent speed performance and ability to unblock geo-restricted content worldwide, which are two key features that make a great VPN. The flip side to this coin in the intrusive practices AVG takes in collecting user data for the purpose of selling it to third-party organizations.
In this AVG Secure VPN review, you’ll learn how it stacks up to competitors and lends itself to some needed improvements in order to compete with more robust services.
About AVG Secure VPN
AVG Secure VPN is both a standalone and somewhat of a “sweetener” for a bigger collection of antivirus tools offered in the AVG Ultimate antivirus bundle. The AVG Ultimate bundle has everything from internet security antivirus to PC TuneUp utilities.
As a subscription platform, AVG Secure VPN customers receive basic VPN features with state-of-the-art encryption, our preferred OneVPN protocol, and a modified “no-logs” policy. AVG Secure VPN has a smaller server network with 50+ servers spanning 36 countries. AVG Secure VPN works with Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices.
Acquired by its competitor Avast Software in July 2016, it is now headquartered in the Czech Republic. That location is a concern for online privacy seekers, in that EU data retention laws and intelligence-sharing agreements apply. Under those restrictions, a VPN could be subject to mass surveillance and could be compelled to hand over user data to authorities.
Our AVG Secure VPN review covers AVG’s standalone VPN product in great detail.
Pros & Cons
As we mentioned before, no two VPNs are created equal. Each provider has certain drawbacks and benefits that differentiate them from the rest. So, we provide a cursory overview of the main pros and cons AVG Secure VPN has to offer users for a better idea of what separates them.
To some extent, AVG Secure VPN provides standard features you’d expect from a premium VPN. We list the most notables below:
- Web privacy and location masking. Using a premium VPN like AVG Secure VPN is the first line of defense in thwarting hackers and ensuring online privacy. AVG Secure VPN has the 256-bit encryption and a protocol that hides the user’s location and masks the origination IP address, which are the foundations of web anonymity.
- Simple to install and intuitive interface. Users can opt for a free 7-day trial with a quick no-credit-card-required download.
- Worldwide, diverse server selection. AVG provides coverage in areas other VPN providers typically neglect.
- Works with Windows, Apple, Android, and iOS
- No IP/DNS leaks detected
- Unblocks U.S. Netflix and BBC iPlayer
- Relatively good speed performance. All VPNs negatively impact internet speed, but premium VPNs like AVG Secure minimize its effect.
Even with its fair speed performance and streaming capabilities, AVG Secure VPN still comes with a few crucial disadvantages compared to larger VPN providers. We uncovered these main cons:
- Could have stronger protocols. Although OpenVPN and UDP for Windows is strong enough, IPsec for Mac is too low and slow in switching connections.
- Privacy practices need to be improved, made more transparent, and audited
- Questionable “no-logs” policy. While AVG Secure VPN claims to no log identifiable customer data or track its users, they do in some instances – selling online traffic data to third-party advertisers.
- Keeps VPN connection logs with timestamps
- Small server network. There are only 50+ servers across 36 countries, which is very small compared to other large VPN providers.
- Inflexible pricing. The only standalone option is a $79.99/year subscription.
- Only one encryption standard available with no option to switch protocols
- Lack of additional security features, like ad blocker
- Does not work in China or other countries with strong internet censorship practices like Malaysia and North Korea.
AVG Secure VPN comes with most standard features one would expect with a premium VPN. However, don’t look for advanced features like ad blocking or antimalware. Those features come with their premium offering AVG Secure Browser, which is a separate internet security suite.
AVG Secure VPN comes with the following standard features:
AVG Secure VPN provides a Wi-Fi security encryption (AES 256-bit) currently used by banks and government agencies. As an industry standard, this is considered safe-proof.
Friendly user interface
The AVG Secure VPN app is simple to download and easy to use. It is easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing. Its platform is intuitive even for the inexperienced VPN user. The AVG Secure VPN app installs quickly and has a quick-connect feature that automatically loads the VPN connection.
AVG Secure VPN offers smartphone apps for both Android and iPhone devices. While smartphones are generally secure from PC and Mac malware attacks, today’s smartphone users are prone to signing on to free WiFi servers as a way to cut smartphone data costs. So, one security vulnerability problem is that mobile users are exposed on unsecured public WiFi networks.
Loading a VPN on a smartphone is the safest way to protect a smartphone from attacks. AVG Secure VPN offers the same protection for a smartphone on a WiFi connection as it does for a tablet or laptop.
AVG Secure VPN is safe to use on an Android device and iOS (iPhones and iPads), providing full end-to-end encryption and secure protocols. However, it makes no grand statements about your data being protected from government agencies and AVG’s own tracking practices.
- 1 Year: $4.99 per month (billed $59.88 now for the first year)
- 2 Years: $3.99 per month (billed $95.76 now for the first 2 years)
- 3 Years: $3.99 per month (billed $143.64 now for the first 3 years)
AVG Secure VPN doesn’t provide much flexibility with its pricing structure. They only offer yearly subscriptions that are billed at the time of sign-up and automatically renewed unless otherwise canceled. There are no shorter-term subscriptions. Compared to more robust VPN services like ExpressVPN and Surfshark, AVG Secure VPN pricing is a little steep – between $3.99 and $4.99 per month when broken down.
If you want more bang for your buck, AVG Secure VPN allows users to bundle their VPN service with its AVG Ultimate internet secure suite. Similar to Norton’s 360 offering, the AVG Ultimate platform is a malware protection platform that includes AVG Secure VPN. It covers 10 devices and costs $119.99 per year (with an introductory price of $79.99 for the first year).
Additionally, AVG Secure VPN offers two ways for users to truly test out their service before fully committing: a 7-day free trial and a 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee. Their 7-day free trial does not require a credit card on file and can be activated in less than two minutes with their helpful step-by-step guide upon sign-up. If, after a week, you do not wish to continue using AVG Secure VPN, your account will simply be inactivated.
Its 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee applies to customer accounts once a person signs up for their service. subscription period. If you decide that AVG is not right for you, you can request a refund if you cancel your subscription within the first 30 days of activating your account.
Subscriptions are automatically renewed at the close of your first promotional period (1-year, 2-years, or 3-years) unless cancelled beforehand. However, you’ll be charged a higher base price. Users can select from a variety of payment options including Visa, Master Card, PayPal and American Express.
All in all, we view AVG Secure VPN pricing as fairly limited. Although, they do offer two means for testing out their service that some providers don’t. In the end, the consensus among most reviewers is that this VPN product does not offer enough features for the price.
One feature that distinguishes premium-grade VPNs from free services is the no-logs policy. Data-mining giants like Google and Amazon have harvested online usage records for marketing and ad targeting. Free VPN providers want a piece of that action and only remain “free” through exploiting users’ records of online browsing and financial activity.
What it does collect is the part of the user’s IP address that can be used to identify the internet service provider, but not the user. It also tracks the VPN server with a timestamp when the user connects and disconnects from the VPN. Plus, it records the total amount of data transmitted during the session.
Due to its very technology and circumventing, VPNs are prone to slow internet speeds no matter what. However, premium VPNs today have advanced technology so much that, in most cases, losses in speed are negligible.
Our testers found out that when it comes to speed, AVG comes in as a midtier performer.
Tested at a base speed of 97 Mbps (Megabits per second), AVG Secure VPN when connected to the US and UK servers achieved average to above average results of 65 Mbps—fast enough for trouble-free streaming.
When connected with a Melbourne, Australia, VPN server, the tester experienced a download speed drop from its base of 93 Mbps to just over 23 Mbps. So, for the fastest speeds, users need to stick to U.S. and North American servers.
Users looking for the best AVG server speeds should perform their own speed tests. Usually, the closer you are to a server, the faster your connection will be. There are, however, other factors that affect a VPN’s speed performance—your internet service provider, internet bandwidth, distance from a server, the time of day, and technical things like lags caused by VPN encryption. Be sure to look at these factors as a whole before writing off a VPN when you experience slow speeds.
Server Locations & Network
The good news is that AVG Secure VPN services span the globe. The bad news is that it only has roughly 56 servers in just 36 countries. (Surfshark, fairly new to the market, already has servers in 63 countries.)
However, AVG Secure VPN provides better coverage in Africa and South America than some other VPNs, which typically ignore those countries. AVG claims that it owns its entire network of servers, and none use virtual locations. (A virtual location is a hardware server configured to play host to several software-defined servers.)
According to AVG’s website, their server country counts are as follows:
- North America (3)
- South America (2)
- Europe (20)
- South Africa (1)
- Asia Pacific (8)
- Middle East (2)
Users cannot drill down to locate all specific servers, which may not be a big thing for most users. But other VPNs like NordVPN and ProtonVPN permit the user to browse through all available services and save their location for future use.
However, AVG Secure VPN does allow users to investigate city-level servers in Canada (2), Germany (2), Russia (2), Spain (2), the UK (2) and U.S. (15). The city-level choice is ideal for optimizing speeds and tracking geo-specific content issues.
Streaming & Torrenting
AVG VPN Secure accepts peer-to-peer (P2P) torrenting and streaming. However, Netflix actively blocks VPN connections, because those connections are typically outside the geographic areas restricted by most of their airing licenses. The good news is that AVG VPN has specialized streaming servers that can successfully stream Netflix and other online streaming services with ease.
In addition, testers have found that AVG Secure VPN works well on North American servers. For example, a user who needs to bypass a local blacked-out sporting event, can hop into another time zone to spoof the location and get access.
AVG Secure VPN has several servers specifically optimized for P2P use. They are listed as “P2P” in the app’s server list. Torrent services are located in the following countries:
- U.S.A. (Seattle, Miami, New York)
- Czech Republic
The not-so-good news is that since there are so few AVG Secure VPN streaming servers, users are prone to get a “we’re busy” signal. Unfortunately, some popular services like Hulu and Amazon Prime will not accept AVG connections.
Don’t try to use AVG Secure VPN with privacy guarantees in China, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, or any other country that practices heavy internet censorship. The problem is that AVG has no stealth protocols or geo-blocking tools to assist in circumventing these countries’ firewalls. That makes its OpenVPN protocol quite easy to block.
AVG’s parent company Avast spokespersons freely admit that their VPN won’t work in China because of Chinese government policies and regulation. That explanation, however, makes a virtue out of necessity, since many VPN services like ExpressVPN can defeat government censorship. If we’re comparing apples to apples, more established VPN providers like ExpressVPN – who are also cheaper than AVG Secure VPN – are better for those travelling to or living in government censored areas.
Platforms & Devices
AVG Secure VPN offers simultaneous connections on up to 5 devices and allows the user to connect to its VPN on Mac OSX, Windows 10, and iOS/Android smartphones. It also doesn’t require a browser extension.
AVG provides user-friendly downloading and installation instructions for each platform and devices through its online AVG Support Center.
Here is a list of main platforms and devices AVG Secure VPN is compatible with:
- 300 MB of hard disk space required
- Windows 10 (must support SSE2 instructions)—Does not run on Windows Vista or Windows XP
- Windows 8/8.1 (except RT and Starter Edition; Windows 7 SP1 or higher
- Optimal screen resolution no less than 1024×768 Pixels
- 90 MB of available hard disk space
- Apple macOS 10.12.x (Sierra), 10.13.x (High Sierra), 10.4.x (Mojave), or 10.15 x (Catalina)
- Optimal screen resolution no less than 1280×800 Pixels
- Android Operating Systems running Google Android 5.0 (Lollipop, API 21) or higher
- iOS iPhones or iPads running Apple iOS 11.0 or higher
Users cannot install AVG Secure VPN at the source of their internet access—the router. The best workaround is its multiple-device coverage—up to 5 different connections. However, other router-connected devices—home security, climate controls, etc.—are not protected.
Gaming consoles and smart TVs
There are currently no AVG VPN apps for game consoles—Xbox and PlayStation, etc. The master suite of AVG antivirus offerings likewise does not include protection for smart TVs.
All in all, AVG Secure VPN provides ample compatibility and a user-friendly interface that appeals to many casual users. However, if you don’t see your device or preferred platform on this list, it may be worth doing your own research to find the best VPN for you.
Encryption & Security
Despite its military-grade encryption and streaming capabilities, AVG Secure VPN’s Logging and Privacy policies raise sizable questions about a user’s overall security online. AVG is a decent VPN choice for users seeking basic protection on public WiFi networks, but we can’t recommend it to users that require airtight security and anonymity online.
We analyzed exactly what protocols and encryption standards AVG Secure VPN operates under and noticed some red flags worth pointing out.
Here are the main components of AVG Secure VPN’s encryption and security practices:
AVG Secure VPN uses the industry-leading AES-256 encryption standard. AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) is the highest cloud encryption standard. It employs a single, varying length key with an algorithm working on a single block of data that encrypts and re-encrypts the data 10 to 14 times. AES meets all federal government requirements for protection of health and financial data security.
AVG Secure VPN uses the OpenVPN protocol for its Windows application. Open VPN is the most secure and robust option on the market today. For its Mac client, AVG uses the stable IPSec, but it has the disadvantage of being easily blocked by firewalls—and it reduces connection speed.
DNS data-leak prevention with a “kill switch”
AVG Secure VPN prevents data leaks with a kill switch. An unstable internet connection can cause the VPN server to drop while the user continues transmitting data. A VPN “kill switch” will detect a VPN disconnect and take the user offline. A kill switch is especially important for those who always need a reliable private connection — activists, business owners, etc. The kill switch feature ensures that no data goes through the user’s connection unless it is through the VPN. We found that sometimes AVG disconnects users multiple times in a single minute, which can turn into frustration over time.
AVG Secure VPN has no problems with DNS leaks, but has no custom DNS settings. DNS leak protection prevents the operating system from defaulting to the Internet Service Provider’s DNS (Dynamic Name System) when the user connects to a web address. Instead, the kill switch simply disconnects the user from the internet.
Without the DNS leak protection, the user’s original IP address is shown, defeating the original purpose of a VPN. Testers have found that their true location was detected even while connected to outside servers. Other testers, however, found no DNS leak problems.
AVG Secure VPN is both a standalone and add-on product for AVG Ultimate’s suite of web security offerings. Through a series of tests and prodding, we discovered that AVG Secure VPN is far from being a top-tier VPN offering.
The “pros” include AVG Secure VPN’s web privacy and location masking with high-powered 256-bit encryption protocols. It has a no-logs policy that promises the users’ web activity is never tracked. It is simple to install and works with Mac, PC, Android, and iOS devices. The service includes a worldwide diverse selection with coverage in South America and Africa. It works with Windows, Apple, iOS and Android. It unblocks U.S. Netflix and the BBC iPlayer and testers found no IP/DNS leaks.
AVG Secure VPN has a relatively small inventory of servers, and it does not work in China or other countries with strong internet censorship practices in place. Its privacy practices are in urgent need of tightening, and its country location inventory are low. It has an inflexible yearly pricing structure, but it does provide a risk-free 7-day free trial and 30-Day Money-Back guarantee to compensate.
Still, AVG Secure VPN standalone pricing is somewhat of a bait-and-switch proposition. Users sign on for a lower price, depending on the number of devices covered. After the first year, AVG bumps the price up to a $30. (The VPN is also included as a feature in single subscriptions of AVG Ultimate.)
AVG Secure VPN has a no-logs policy, but does share some user data and keeps connection records for at least 30 days. Its speed is about average for VPNs, but it drops significantly, depending on how far away the VPN server is. AVG also has an extensive FAQ and knowledge base are extensive, but has no real-time customer support chat available.
AVG VPN Secure accepts P2P torrent connections, but lacks the protocols to defeat VPN detectors on popular streaming services.
Finally, we appreciate that it has state-of-the-art encryption. That encryption meets federal government requirements for the protection of health and financial security data. OpenVPN protocol provides a popular, blazing fast VPN connection. AVG Secure VPNs employ the OpenVPN protocol for Windows, but it uses a less secure and robust protocol for Mac and mobile devices.
Our bottom line: AVG Secure VPN does what a VPN has to do to provide online security. It does not, however, offer anything special for its higher than average price. Its logging problems and inflexible pricing schemes, along with its lack of additional security features make AVG Secure VPN weaker than the more feature-packed VPNs out there.