“Lightning-fast” but with a tainted past? How safe is SecureLine VPN, given Avast’s past data selling scandals? After taking a deeper look into this matter and testing the VPN myself, I’d say it is safe. Avast had to do a lot to make up for its questionable profit methods.
Plus, the data was coming through its antivirus products, not the VPN itself. If nothing else, these past lessons have made the company more privacy-conscious. You can’t make a “mistake” such as this one twice and expect to survive in the cybersecurity business!
Data harvesting aside, SecureLine VPN offers great speeds on local and faraway servers.
However, my findings show its unblocking capabilities are average. Even though I couldn’t watch BBC iPlayer or access any of the Netflix libraries I tested, I could stream Disney+, Hulu, and HBO Max without buffering.
But if you decide that it's not for you, there are plenty of safe VPNs that you can choose from.
Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
- Unblocks only a few streaming sites, including Hulu, HBO Max, ITV, and Disney+. Take a look at my full streaming test results here.
- Almost “lightning-fast” speeds on both local and faraway servers. See the full results of all the servers I tested.
- Small but strategically positioned server network. It has 700 servers in 30 countries across 6 geographical regions. Check out my full analysis of its server network.
- Torrenting is allowed with dedicated P2P servers. Find out why I still don’t recommend SecureLine for torrenting.
- Solid customer support for paying customers. Access to 24/7 live chat, email, and even phone support. Free trial users can only search the Knowledge Base. Read about my experience with its customer support here.
- Super easy set-up and intuitive app interface. Plus, you can use it on up to 10 devices simultaneously. Check out what the UX is like here.
- Offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 7-day free trial, no credit card required. I tested both.
Avast SecureLine VPN Features — Updated in January 20225.0
|📆 Money Back Guarantee||30|
|📝 Does VPN keep logs?||Yes|
|🖥 Number of servers||700|
|💻 Number of devices per license||10|
|🛡 Kill switch||Yes|
|🗺 Based in country||Czech Republic|
|🛠 Support||Knowledge Base|
|📥 Supports torrenting||Yes|
Avast VPN is not a streamer’s dream, but it’s not a total disappointment either.
I had high hopes because SecureLine has dedicated streaming servers in the following locations:
- US — Gotham City, Miami, New York, Seattle
- Germany — Frankfurt
- UK — Wonderland
Streaming servers should give you better access to region-specific content, bufferless streaming, and faster loading times. But after testing these and 20+ other server locations, I could access only a handful of streaming platforms, including HBO Max, Hulu, ITV, and Disney+.
I couldn’t access any of the Netflix libraries: US, UK, German, Swedish, Canadian, Japanese, and French. Other platforms such as DAZN, All4, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video (US) didn’t work for me even on its streaming servers.
Unblocked: HBO Max, Hulu, ITV, and Disney+
I could stream shows on Disney+, ITV, HBO Max, and Hulu with ease.
I was thrilled that almost all US server locations worked. You can only watch HBO Max in the US and certain territories across Latin America and the Caribbean. Using Avast’s Boston server, I watched shows on HBO Max in HD without any buffering.
Hulu is also only available within the US, Puerto Rico, some parts of Japan, and some military bases. I connected to its Gotham City server and watched Curb Your Enthusiasm and a few other shows with ease.
Even though Disney+ has strong VPN-detection technology, SecureLine bypassed all restrictions with ease.
UK’s Wonderland server proved to be great for unblocking ITV. If you like British TV networks, you’ll be happy to find out you can watch ITV (aka Channel 3) using Avast. I watched the reality show The Only Way is Essex without buffering.
Blocked By: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, All4, and DAZN
Many popular streaming platforms blocked me while connected to Avast SecureLine's servers. If Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or BBC iPlayer are your top choices, you should look for a VPN with more powerful streaming capabilities.
Avast couldn’t unblock any of the Netflix libraries I tested, including Germany, Sweden, Canada, the US, the UK, Japan, and France. I tested over 20 servers, but Netflix's pesky geoblocks wouldn't let me.
I also connected to a server in Tokyo because I wanted to watch Baseball Girl (Yagusonyeo) on Netflix Japan. All I got was the “Pardon the interruption” error message, meaning Netflix blocked me despite using a server in Japan.
Amazon Prime Video is also region-locked, and you can only access the titles already available in your country. I was hoping to access Prime Video’s US catalog using its Gotham City server, but the geo-restrictions are too strong for this VPN.
You can only stream BBC iPlayer in the UK, so I thought Avast’s special Wonderland and London servers would let me watch The Outlaws. However, that wasn’t the case.
I reached out to Avast’s support regarding the issue. Its representative told me most platforms (especially Amazon and Hulu US) have strong geoblocks and block incoming VPNs. They recommend using one of the following streaming servers: the Czech Republic, France, Netherlands, Frankfurt, Miami, New York, and Seattle.
I took their advice and tried using all those servers, but unfortunately, nothing changed.
Maybe not “lightning-fast,” but still great, at least using the automatic (IPsec) protocol. My speeds were consistent on close and faraway servers. Also fast enough for multitasking: browsing, gaming, or streaming with only a slight slowdown.
Your speed will mainly depend on your baseline speed and the proximity of the server you connect to. You have 2 options: you can let Avast choose the fastest server for you using its Smart mode, or you can choose one yourself using its Manual mode.
I tested both. I looked at download speeds, upload speeds, and ping. First, I measured my baseline speed in Vienna. After that, I connected to a local server using its Smart VPN mode, and to 10 servers I chose manually (using the IPsec protocol):
No VPN connection (Vienna, Austria):
Smart VPN mode
First, I checked my speeds using its Smart VPN mode, which chooses the optimal server depending on your location and activity.
You can even choose to turn it on automatically whenever you:
- connect to untrusted networks
- use torrent apps or websites
- visit banking sites
- stream videos
Essentially, this mode works like split tunneling. It lets you route some of your traffic through the VPN while other devices or apps have direct internet access for faster speeds. It was great to see this feature on macOS, which is rare.
For simple web browsing, I was automatically connected to the local server in Vienna, and I saw almost no reduction in speed.
Local server in Vienna:
|Download (Mbps):||142.31 (1.92% decrease)|
|Upload (Mbps):||14.46 (8.99% decrease)|
Manual VPN mode
After that, I switched to the Manual VPN mode, where you can choose the servers you want. This mode gives you more freedom and a chance to access content from different regions.
I manually tested 10 servers, and I got solid speeds on all of them. Some servers are close to my location (Frankfurt, Luxembourg, London), others are far away (New York, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Montreal, São Paulo, and South Africa).
Even on faraway servers in Brazil and Australia — which did decrease my speed a bit — I felt no noticeable difference. I could still browse and watch videos on YouTube with no issues.
On average, I experienced about a 13% decrease in download speed and a 38% decrease in upload speed. Typically, a VPN reduces your speed by 15-20%. That happens because it encrypts your traffic and sends it through a server, adding a few extra steps. If you choose a faraway server, the process will take even longer which will slow your speed even further.
|Server||Ping (ms)||Increase in ping||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)|
|Baseline speed (Vienna)||11||-||145.11||15.89|
|New York||126||+115||142.86 (1.55% slower)||8.77 (44.8% slower)|
|São Paulo||230||+219||52.58 (63.76% slower)||7.39 (53.49% slower)|
|London||40||+29||142.24 (1.97% slower)||14.17 (10.82% slower)|
|Melbourne||306||+295||93.08 (35.85% slower)||4.01 (74.76% slower)|
|Luxembourg||77||+66||130.96 (9.75% slower)||10.95 (31.08% slower)|
|South Africa||206||+195||126.49 (12.83% slower)||7.27 (54.24% slower)|
|Los Angeles||179||+168||129.64 (10.66% slower)||6.68 (57.96% slower)|
|Frankfurt||25||+14||142.19 (2.01% slower)||14.59 (8.18% slower)|
|Barcelona||54||+43||142.16 (2.03% slower)||13.64 (14.15% slower)|
|Montreal||113||+102||141.68 (2.36% slower)||11.42 (28.13% slower)|
|Average||135.6||+124.6||126.27 (12.98% slower)||10.43 (37.76% slower)|
I also tried the experimental Mimic protocol to see if I could get even faster speeds. However, my ping got incredibly high, and my upload speeds got really low, especially on faraway servers.
|Server||Ping (ms)||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)|
|Melbourne||398 (+387)||64.33 (55.6% slower)||1.69 (89.3% slower)|
|São Paulo||303 (+292)||79.23 (45.4% slower)||3.38 (78.7% slower)|
|Boston||125 (+114)||121.31 (16.4% slower)||6.53 (58.9% slower)|
However, the biggest problem was that my connection was constantly breaking, so I don’t recommend using the Avast Mimic protocol.
All in all — my tests showed Avast SecureLine does deliver on its promise to give you good speeds, at least while using its automatic (IPSec) protocol.
Are Avast SecureLine’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? Yes
Avast’s speeds are fast enough for smooth gameplay — I had no issues even while gaming on faraway servers.
I’m a big fan of Overwatch, so naturally, that was the first game I wanted to see if I could play using Avast’s servers.
Typically, with a VPN on, you see a latency drop of about 15-20%. I’m happy to report I had less than that using Avast’s server in Amsterdam, which is about 1,150 km away from my location in Vienna. I played my favorite online games without frustrating freezes.
My latency was always around 60 ms which is enough for lag-free gaming, even for high-bandwidth first-person shooter games. I played Overwatch on high resolution using Avast’s server in Oakland (New Zealand), one of the most remote servers from my location in Vienna. I expected a higher latency because the farther you are from the server, the higher the ping will get.
SecureLine has limited network coverage but is well-dispersed across 6 regions. It has 700 servers in only 30 countries which is not a lot compared to the average size of a premium VPN.
In most countries, Avast has only 1 server location. Bigger is always better when it comes to server networks because it translates to better speeds and streaming. Having just 1 server location means your connection speed and stability may vary in peak hours.
Avast VPN has 2 modes:
- Manual — you can change servers manually
On its Desktop version, when you click on “Change Location,” you can connect to any server you want. You can even choose between regions: Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, North America, and South America.
- Smart — it chooses the optimal server based on your location and activity
Unlike Manual VPN, the Smart VPN mode doesn’t allow you to change servers. Instead, it finds the optimal server for you based on your location and the sites you want to visit.
Aside from location, you can also choose servers depending on their function: P2P and streaming. I love these divisions because you don’t have to search for ages to find the best server for torrenting or for watching your favorite shows.
However, on its mobile version, you don’t have this option. You have to scroll to find the server you want to connect to. Even though it lacks the purpose-region division that I find super useful, you can still search by country with clearly marked streaming and torrenting servers.
SecureLine VPN ticks the boxes when it comes to security features. Its AES 256-bit encryption — the level of protection used by government and banking sites — keeps you safe from hackers and prying eyes.
It also has a kill switch, but you need to activate it manually. I’d much prefer to have this on by default. You might forget to turn it on, and you’ll be potentially vulnerable without even realizing it!
I suggest you do that right away because a VPN without a kill switch is like a car without a handbrake — it’s not safe. If your VPN breaks, a kill switch will disconnect you from the internet, so none of your data is out in the open.
But the kill switch feature is available only on its Manual VPN mode. To stay on the safe side, I’d avoid using the Smart mode too often.
SecureLine's default protocol is IPSec on macOS and OpenVPN on Windows. OpenVPN is the industry standard nowadays because it strikes the perfect balance between speed and reliability. IPSec is generally fast and a great alternative if you can't use OpenVPN, but it’s not as secure and stable.
The third protocol you can choose from is the experimental Avast Mimic, still presented as a beta feature. According to Avast, this protocol is useful in high-censorship countries where you can’t use IPsec. In my experience, this protocol is highly unstable because my connection would break all the time while using it.
WireGuard, a VPN protocol that may even replace OpenVPN and IPSec because of its simplicity and speed, is not supported. There’s no support for IKEv2 either, which is also fast and especially great for mobile devices.
There is no DNS leak protection, though. A DNS leak is a security defect that means your online activity is visible to your ISP even though you’re using a VPN. To check its security, I ran leak tests, and my findings showed no DNS, IP, or WebRTC leaks, meaning your data is truly safe.
Before installing the VPN, I also performed a VirusTotal scan to see if the app had any malware. Even though that is rarely the case with VPNs, a little extra caution can’t hurt. As expected, my scan was clean:
Privacy — Shaky With a Tainted Past
Even though now it is trying to be as transparent as possible, my opinion is that privacy is still not Avast’s strong point.
Honestly, it’s hard for me to trust my personal information with a company that sold sensitive user data to corporations for profit.
In 2019, an investigation showed Avast Antivirus had been harvesting and selling data of over 435 million users to companies like Google, Pepsi, and Microsoft. Avast did this through its marketing analytics subsidiary, Jumpshot, which they acquired in 2013. The company shut it down later due to the data selling scandal.
It turns out Avast was recording every users’ click — their search history, demographics, location, even social media information.
On its official blog, Avast’s CEO Ondrej Vlcek apologized and said: “Avast’s sole purpose is to make the world a safer place.” He announced to close the operation only after almost 7 years of collecting and selling data for profit.
I find it paradoxical that a security company acts in such a way and offers a vague and forced apology only after a widespread outcry. Can you ever trust someone like that again?
However, in its defense, Avast says that the personal data collected through Jumpshot — the so-called “Clickstream data” — was aggregated and therefore not identifiable.
But this shouldn’t worry you so much because Avast collected the data from its antivirus users.
As for its logging policy, SecureLine claims it doesn’t log any of your activity and that “Nobody can see which apps you use, websites you visit, or the content you engage with.”
- timestamps of connections
- amount of data transmitted
- your IP address (for downloading, authorization, etc.)
Its headquarters are in the Czech Republic, which is a Tier B country. That means it doesn’t belong to a 5/9/14 Eyes country but still collaborates with those countries. So, given its jurisdiction, logging all this info is privacy-invasive. Under certain circumstances, it could share your data.
However, according to GDPR, all EU users should be able to opt out of sharing their personal information. But, somehow, this doesn’t apply here.
Truly zero-log VPNs should not track or keep records of almost any activities, let alone hand them over.
Avast has P2P servers, but I still don’t recommend sharing files because of its history and logging policy.
Dedicated P2P servers are optimized for extra safe file sharing. Even though this sounds great in theory, I don’t think Avast is a good VPN for torrenting. After all, it did harvest user data, it logs a lot of information, and its headquarters are in the Czech Republic.
Still, I wanted to see how good its P2P network is. As an old movie buff, I downloaded 2 old movies in the public domain using BitTorrent while connected to its torrenting server in Prague.
My download went smoothly. The more seeders you have, the faster your speeds are. My download speed was 1.5 Mbps and lower, which was solid considering I only had 2-3 seeders for each movie I was downloading.
Don’t forget to turn your kill switch on so there aren’t any leaks if your VPN connection breaks while torrenting. Using its Manual mode, go to Menu/Preferences and tick the kill switch box.
Avast has a solid choice of torrenting servers in 6 countries:
- the Czech Republic (Prague)
- France (Paris)
- Germany (Frankfurt)
- the Netherlands (Amsterdam)
- the UK (London)
- the US (Miami, Seattle, and New York)
To see the full list of its torrenting servers on desktop, click on "Change Location" and choose the P2P tab right above "Streaming".
However, I highly recommend you always check the rules and regulations in your countries before torrenting. Also, note that my team and I do not condone illegal torrenting.
Does Avast SecureLine VPN Work in China? No
SecureLine is unlikely to work in China, as confirmed by its customer support.
Avast VPN lacks the obfuscation tools to bypass the Great Firewall of China.
Still, its support also mentioned that you might be able to connect in some instances, depending on your protocol, OS, and IP address.
I suggest you get a safe VPN for China with more robust security measures if you need one to bypass the Great Firewall. But even with a premium VPN, I’d be cautious about using a VPN in internet-restricted countries. Aside from China, other censored countries are Dubai and the UAE, for example.