Can a company riddled with past data selling scandals suddenly become a privacy-first VPN provider?
Firstly, both Avast and AVG Technologies are in the antivirus software industry. Secondly — are AVG and Avast the same thing? If these two brands sounded similar to you, it’s because they belong to the same company. Namely, Avast has been the parent company of AVG Technologies since 2016.
A little background: both were founded in the Czech Republic — in the late 80s, early 90s, and went global. In July 2016, though, Avast acquired its rival AVG Technologies for $1.3 billion.
But the thing that struck me the most is that Avast, an antivirus software used by millions worldwide, had a data leak scandal not so long ago. As it turns out, the firm was selling highly sensitive browsing data.
That made me wonder, how safe is your identity with AVG Secure VPN?
Aside from its apparent lack of privacy and obfuscation tools, its pricing plans are also a little unreasonable. You can only subscribe to yearly plans, which is a bit too committing for me, especially for a VPN lagging far behind others in this category.
Not only that, but I also had a lot of back-and-forth with the support for something you should have by default. I would much rather skip all the hassle and get a VPN that works right away.
To see for myself, I gave AVG Secure VPN a try. I tested every single aspect of AVG Secure VPN: from security and privacy to streaming, speed, support, and set-up.
Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
- I couldn't bypass geo-blocking. Unfortunately, I couldn't unblock Netflix US, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, or BBC iPlayer. Even its customer support confirmed geo-blocking is too strong for this VPN. Click here to see my streaming results.
- Not for privacy enthusiasts: invasive logging practices, past data selling scandals, and unstable connections. On the positive side, it does feature a kill switch, and it is located outside the 14 Eyes. Jump to the privacy section.
- Robust encryption with no IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks detected. 256-AES encryption is more than enough to keep you safe, plus I was happy to see my tests showed no leaks. Find out more about its security here.
- Sparse server network, featuring only 60 servers, hence the streaming difficulties. Check out my speed test results here.
- Torrenting was smooth, thanks to its P2P-optimized servers. I didn't have any issues using BitTorrent. Find my tests below.
- No 24/7 live chat support, but you can get further help via email and remote assistance. I found it disappointing that you can only get in touch with an agent via a support request form on its website. It takes them about 24 hours to respond. Read about my experience with AVG customer support.
- You can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously, which is great compared to some other VPNs. Find out more about device connections here.
- AVG supports Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. No Linux support, though. Also, it is not compatible with Fire OS, so it can’t be installed on Amazon Fire Stick. Click here to see more details on device compatibility.
- Set-up and installation were relatively easy, but otherwise a lot of work if you need help with anything. Jump to the set-up and installation section.
- Affordable, but with a catch. The tradeoff is you only have yearly plans. However, there is also a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 7-day free trial (which didn’t technically work for me). Find out more about its pricing plans here.
AVG Secure Features — Updated in February 2023
Money Back Guarantee
Does VPN keep logs?
Number of servers
Number of devices per license
Based in country
Streaming — Didn’t Work for Me at All
During my tests, AVG Secure VPN couldn’t unblock any of the streaming sites. I couldn’t stream Netflix US, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, or Disney+. But based on the info you can find on its website, you get the impression that streaming is a no-brainer for this VPN:
Based on the info I found online and on its website, its streaming capabilities should be solid
But even though AVG has special streaming servers, they are not strong enough to bypass geographical restrictions.
I tried all 15 servers in the US (including 4 dedicated streaming servers), and I couldn’t access the Netflix US library content on any of those. Geo-blocking was too strong for AVG’s servers. In case you’re getting a VPN primarily for avoiding geo-filtering, which is a technique used to limit your access to the content online based on your geographic location, I suggest using some other VPNs that excel in this area.
AVG Secure VPN has specialized streaming and torrenting servers
This is its current list of dedicated streaming servers:
- Germany, Frankfurt
- UK, Wonderland
- US, Gotham City
- US, Miami
- US, New York
- US, Seattle
Unblocked: None of the Streaming Sites I Tested
I couldn't unblock any of the streaming sites I tested using AVG Secure VPN. Even its support confirmed this.
Blocked By: Netflix US, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+
In my experience, all the popular streaming sites, including Netflix US, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ detect and block AVG Secure VPN.
As a huge fan of Netflix, I was excited to watch Radium Girls from my location in Vienna. After reading tech reviews and finding out that AVG Secure has dedicated streaming servers for unblocking the US and UK Netflix, I decided to try it out.
Even on its website, AVG Secure prides itself on having dedicated streaming servers which “makes streaming a breeze”.
Getting around content restrictions is not precisely one of AVG Secure's selling points
Much to my disappointment, I couldn't access US exclusives like The Radium Girls, The Borgias, Weeds, and Jericho, even while using the Gotham City server.
Even AVG’s special streaming servers wouldn’t let me watch Netflix US
Jericho is another US-only series which means AVG Secure VPN didn’t unblock Netflix US
I tested all of the US servers; none let me watch Netflix US
I also tested Disney+ and couldn’t even log in — all I got was a black screen. As I found out, Disney+ has heavy geo-blocking that detects whenever you’re using a VPN to mask your location, hence the black screen. When I turned the VPN off, the sign-up screen appeared again. A similar situation happened with Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.
I reached out to its customer care to see if it could solve the problem. That took quite a bit of my time and did not solve my streaming problem.
The customer agent offered further assistance in the form of remote control from their tech support team
I had to download the LogMeIn Rescue remote support software so that their support agent can access my computer. When I tried installing the file, though, a dialog window popped up saying: "You don't have permission to open the app. Contact your computer or network administrator for assistance."
I couldn’t run the app because of the problems with permissions on Mac Big Sur
Just a quick tip for solving permission issues on Mac Big Sur: System Preferences > Security and Privacy > General and then click “Open anyway”:
If you get permission problems, as I did, you need to allow the app installation manually
When I finally got the permission out of the way, I connected to its remote support.
In my case, it didn’t take them longer than 15 minutes
However, the remote support did not solve my issue. Instead, the support told me that it is normal to be blocked by streaming sites:
The connection with its remote tech support was breaking all the time even though my connection was stable
After this, AVG sent me an email once again apologizing for the inconvenience and explaining why it couldn’t help me:
AVG support told me it is not up to them but up to the streaming sites
Also, for those of you who enjoy streaming with Firestick devices, AVG Secure VPN has no app support for Firestick streaming devices. For streaming purposes, I definitely recommend a more reliable VPN.
Given that AVG Secure has dedicated streaming servers in the US and the UK, I thought I'd easily access Netflix US, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.
Instead, this is the welcome message I got while trying to watch Radium Girls from a US server in Jacksonville:
Netflix blocked my connection when I used a server in Jacksonville
Same situation as far as BBC iPlayer is concerned — not even the special UK Wonderland server let me stream:
Not even AVG’s dedicated streaming server Wonderland let me stream on BBC iPlayer
I was disappointed that I couldn’t watch any of the shows on Netflix US, Hulu, or BBC iPlayer. What are these servers good for then anyway? I reached out to their customer support with this complaint.
The customer support suggested running the players in Incognito, which I did, but this didn’t solve my problem. Click here to read more about my back-and-forth with its customer care regarding this issue.
Streaming in Incognito mode didn’t help me access BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, or Netflix
Next, they suggested reinstalling the app; that, too, didn’t help. In the end, I downloaded LogMeIn Rescue remote support software so that its support agent can access my computer. It took them about 10-15 minutes to tell me that there is nothing they can do about this because this is not due to the VPN performance but rather the streaming site restrictions. But isn’t that what you’d expect from a VPN provider in the first place?
Speeds — At First Terrible, Then Solid
The speeds were slow on my first 7-day free trial. Once I switched to a 60-day free trial, the speeds got a lot better. I used Ookla to measure my speed test results. AVG also offers the possibility of using the OpenVPN protocol, which can improve your speeds in case you need a faster connection.
You should be able to get the same service
7-Day Free Trial Speed Test
I experienced extremely slow speeds on my 7-day free trial. I connected automatically to the nearest server, which was in Vienna. However, when I tried measuring my speed, I couldn’t perform the test. When I disconnected, though, I could complete the speed test without any issues.
Latency test error I kept receiving while connected to a server in Australia
Much to my surprise, I couldn’t even measure the speed while connected to servers in Europe or Australia. The message said it could be due to a firewall or server issue. Since my firewall was off at the time, it must have been a fault on their part.
Next, I tried connecting to a server in Brussels. This one, too, was slow; every tab froze. No page would open. Even with its optimal server feature turned on — which connects you to the nearest server for best speed — I still couldn’t perform the speed test.
At first, I thought this might have been just a temporary glitch. The next day, I tried again with the Optimal server with no luck (again using an Austrian server); then I connected to a server in Brussels, Amsterdam, and London, and after waiting for a minute or 2 to load, I got the same latency error message:
Same error message the next day while using a server in Brussels
I wasn’t even able to measure my speed while connected to any of the servers. I was disappointed with the speeds overall at that point. So, I reached out to its customer support and asked them why my connection was extremely slow:
But my connection was slow regardless of the server I chose
Support told me this was due to my distance from the server. I’m not sure if this was the case or not. I figured if it were just due to server distance, the speed would have been better on some and worse on other servers. But in my case, it was consistently bad.
60-Day Free Trial Speed Test
I also tested out its 60-day trial, which proved to be much better in terms of speed.
That happened because I decided to do a much-needed disk cleanup and updated my iOS just before finishing the tests, so I deleted the VPN files as well. Because of that, I had to reinstall the AVG VPN app that I downloaded a few days ago as part of the 7-day free trial. But when I wanted to download the app again, I kept getting the error: “AVG Secure VPN is already installed, please uninstall the previous version first” — even though I uninstalled it.
So a helpful tip for Mac users: if something like this happens, locate and delete AVG Secure VPN folder manually by typing /Library/Application Support/ in Finder’s menu bar Go/Go to Folder. After this, you should be able to reinstall AVG Secure VPN.
Once I got that out of the way and reinstalled the app, I noticed I couldn’t subscribe to the 7-day trial anymore, probably because you can only start your free trial once — which makes sense, after all.
I got a slightly different offer this time — even though I was on day 3 of a 7-day free trial.
The offer was to start a 30-day trial (you can cancel any time, apparently), but you need to subscribe to a 1-year plan and add your payment info — either credit card information or PayPal.
So, I got my 60-day trial, and at the same time, I could see if there is any difference. This time, the upload and download speeds were much better. It turns out there’s no such a thing as a good “no payment details attached” free trial, at least when it comes to AVG Secure VPN. However, I think that technically there shouldn’t be any difference — because otherwise how are you supposed to check if it works? I think this is a big issue because you don’t actually get any service preview, as promised.
That felt like a different VPN. Using the Optimal location feature, I automatically connected to a server near me, this time being much faster.
My optimal location server was the same as my physical location but with a different IP address
My baseline speed in Vienna was:
My baseline speed in Vienna
Download speed: 153.08 Mbps
Upload speed: 15.62 Mbps
I had consistently solid server speeds on my 60-day trial. Here are the speed results of some of the servers I tested in Europe, North America, and Asia:
Prague, Czech Republic
Considering the distance, it makes sense the speeds in Prague were the best
Download speed: 141.67 Mbps (7.45% decrease)
Upload speed: 13.33 Mbps (14.66% decrease)
Amsterdam, Netherlands P2P
Excellent speed test result using a server in Amsterdam
Download speed: 140.04 Mbps (8.51% decrease)
Upload speed: 11.25 Mbps (27.977% decrease)
Great speed in Belgium as well
Download speed: 125.70 Mbps (17.88% decrease)
Upload speed: 13.29 Mbps (14.9168% decrease)
Good speed in Glasgow considering the distance
Download speed: 97.66 Mbps (36.20% decrease)
Upload speed: 13.44 Mbps (13.95% decrease)
US, Gotham City (streaming server)
Gotham’s server speed was astonishingly good (too bad it wouldn’t let me stream Netflix US)
Download speed: 142.06 Mbps (7.19% decrease)
Upload speed: 12.69 Mbps (18.75% decrease)
Tokyo’s server speed was significantly slower
Download speed: 31.21 Mbps (79.61% decrease)
Upload speed: 7.77 Mbps (50.25% decrease)
The speed in Melbourne was significantly slower than my baseline speed in Vienna
Download speed: 10.94 Mbps (92.85% decrease)
Upload speed: 4.17 Mbps (73.30% decrease)
Singapore, Republic of Singapore
Singapore speed was acceptable considering the server distance
Download speed: 38.43 Mbps (74.89% decrease)
Upload speed: 6.93 Mbps (55.63% decrease)
I also used servers in Spain (Madrid), and Germany (Berlin), which gave me solid speeds for a smooth browsing experience.
Are AVG Secure VPN’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? Fast Yes, but Still Not Playable
Depending on the trial I used, my speeds went from zero to solid. But I still couldn’t play League of Legends online.
On my 7-day trial, the speed was terrible, meaning not playable or even downloadable. I tried downloading and playing League of Legends while connected to a server in Montreal, Canada. Installation was straightforward, with a few hiccups here and there. The download speed was terrible, though.
Couldn’t even download the game on my 7-day trial version of AVG Secure VPN
Just in case, I wanted to see if there was some scheduled maintenance going on. But everything was as usual at the time, so the speeds must have been slow due to the VPN.
Riot game status showed no issues or events to report
Once I switched to the 60-day trial, my download was much faster. Still, for some reason, I couldn’t even enter the game.
Server Network — Sparse, but Solid Speeds for Surfing
AVG VPN has a small and, in my experience, unstable server network.
Because of its sparse server network, which includes 30 countries, it is not so great in comparison to other providers in the same price range.
The thing that bothers me when there are so few servers is that the network tends to get congested which leads to slower downloading, streaming, and torrenting. More servers equal better speeds because there is less congestion, so I see why AVG Secure VPN is not on par with other top-tier VPNs in this respect.
What I also found a little unusual is AVG doesn’t mention the number of its IP addresses. Not only that, but it doesn’t even list its server network, so you can’t check server locations before purchasing. Before I signed up, I also wanted to know whether they’re virtual or physical — but I could not find this info either.
The only thing I did know was that AVG Technologies and Avast are one company and probably share the network because Avast bought AVG in 2016.
A screenshot of Avast's blog announcing Avast and AVG became one company
I suppose if you're familiar with the Avast Secure Line server network, you might find this one familiar, too.
Server locations by regions and purpose
Server locations are divided into 6 geographical regions. Here’s a table of all the available servers, their locations, and types:
||1 in total
||8 in total
||27 in total
||2 (1 P2P)
||3 (1 streaming; 1 P2P)
||2 in total
||20 in total
||16 (3 both P2P and streaming; 1 streaming)
I mostly used the default feature called Optimal VPN server location, where the VPN chooses the best server based on your location.
AVG Secure also has a network of dedicated streaming and P2P servers which are supposed to optimize your connection for each activity. Sounds great in theory, but when I tested them, they didn't work. If you’re interested in seeing my streaming test results, click here.
Therefore, aside from geolocation, you also have servers divided depending on the activity you need them for:
- Streaming — 6 in total: 4 in the US (Miami, New York, and Seattle, plus 1 of which is recommended for streaming, called the USA, Gotham City), 1 special streaming server in the UK called the UK, Wonderland, and 1 in Germany
- P2P traffic — 8 in total: 1 in the Czech Republic, 1 in France, 1 in Germany, 1 in the Netherlands, 1 in the UK, and again 3 in the US (Miami, New York, and Seattle — these 3 are both for streaming and P2P).
I found it super easy to change the server location — simply open AVG Secure VPN and hit the “Change location” button.
Security — Theoretically Solid
I wouldn't recommend AVG VPN if your primary concern is privacy. Theoretically, though, you should be more than secure thanks to the military-grade AES 256-bit encryption, which is almost impossible to crack thus making your connection virtually impenetrable.
In case your connection drops — which happened to me with this VPN — to protect yourself you can enable the kill switch feature. This stops your internet connection until your VPN reconnects, preventing your data from leaking.
The kill switch is a relatively new feature of AVG Secure VPN, available for Windows and macOS. I noticed that you have to turn the kill switch on manually; it is not on by default. To do this, go to the Network Security tab and mark “Activate Kill Switch,” and your data is safe even if the connection to a VPN server breaks.
Should you use this VPN with public WiFi to stay on the safe side? I wouldn’t trust it 100%. Public WiFi is one of the most dangerous types of network. So, if you’re not sure, it only makes sense to be cautious.
Activate the kill switch feature to protect yourself from accidental VPN dropouts
If you like customizing your connection depending on what you’re doing, you’ll find a solid choice when it comes to security protocols. AVG VPN uses all 3 major protocols: IKEv2/IPSec, L2TP/IPSec, and OpenVPN. To change the protocol, just go to the settings of your VPN app.
There is no WireGuard support. Theoretically, WireGuard could improve your speed in this case because it is a simpler VPN protocol, which means it tends to have fewer bugs and uses less CPU.
But my preferred choice would still be OpenVPN because it adds an extra layer of safety from man-in-the-middle attacks, meaning it can keep you safe even while using public WiFi, which you need if you want to use AVG Secure VPN on a regular basis.
Though, there is no Multihop feature, which many other VPNs have. Multihop passes your data through two or more VPN servers, which increases your security and makes your activity even harder to track. In my opinion, that would be a welcome addition to AVG’s security, especially if remaining protected is high on your priority list.
Also, in the light of the 2019 data harvesting and selling scandal with Avast, I’d be cautious. After all, Avast Antivirus sold data of over 435 million users to Google, Microsoft, etc. You can’t help but wonder, if it happened once, can it happen again? Not something you can brush aside so quickly, in any case.
But as far as DNS leaks go — it passed the test. Based on my DNS leak tests, AVG didn’t leak data or show security issues.
I detected no leaks while connected to a server in Frankfurt
Just a quick tip, though: when changing locations, make sure you have the kill switch feature on because the connection will break for a few seconds, potentially leaking your data.
Privacy — Not a Top Choice VPN if Privacy Is Your Main Concern
Despite all these features, I wouldn’t recommend this VPN if keeping your data private is your top priority. Intrusive logging practices, past data harvesting scandals, and complex privacy policies with a lot of ‘ifs and buts’.
The events surrounding the company itself don’t instill a lot of trust.
I found AVG Secure VPN has 4 privacy policies on its website:
- General Privacy
- Products Policy
- VPN Policy
- Cookies Policy
As for the VPN Policy, the data it collects and processes is supposedly necessary for improving its products and services, as well as for legal purposes. I suspect to make this look a little better now, AVG is trying to be very transparent about how it handles information. It goes into great detail under which circumstances it discloses your data.
You can even find links to the privacy policies of its payment processors:
Links to the privacy policies of its payment processors
As found on its website, the data it processes is mostly used for product functionality, billing, and payment but also for third-party tools, and other purposes.
It is, however, reassuring to find out that your IP address, DNS queries, browsing history as well as email correspondence, and any attached files would still be safe:
They are quite explicit about the data they hand to others
Even though you should be theoretically super protected, in light of its history of processing personal data, you feel a little unsafe. The fact you’re sharing your information with third-party vendors isn’t something you necessarily want.
The right to disclose your info primarily includes legal obligations such as accounting, anti-money laundering, legal orders, sanction checks, or “other obligations”.
I can’t say this is a privacy-friendly VPN, mostly because of its strong logging policy: it logs connection timestamps and a certain amount of data.
- traces of your original address
- the IP address of the specific server you used
- when you connected/disconnected
- the amount of data collected
Another thing I didn’t like is the fact that AVG VPN keeps connection logs and stores the server’s service data for a certain period. That alone makes me uneasy, not to mention Avast’s data selling scandal in 2019.
My takeaway is: even though it is transparent in how it discloses your personal data, the very fact that it discloses it bothers me.
Torrenting — Solid Torrenting Speeds
Good news: AVG VPN has special P2P servers. Bad news: I still don’t recommend it for torrenting due to its invasive logging policy.
Even though it (supposedly) doesn't log the data that you transfer, it does store connection logs, duration, and bandwidth usage.
AVG stores a lot of data so I would not recommend heavy torrenting
Technically, torrenting is allowed and should be solid, especially since AVG offers dedicated P2P servers that are optimized to give you fast and secure torrenting. It has 8 P2P servers in 6 different countries:
AVG VPN has dedicated P2P servers
My download went smoothly — the speed was excellent. But if you are getting a VPN primarily for torrenting, your privacy might be compromised now and then, depending on your volume and frequency. Just make sure you’re not torrenting when you want to change server location because your connection will be briefly disrupted.
Switching to a new server while downloading will interrupt your connection
Does AVG Secure VPN Work in China? No
If this is the main reason you’re getting a VPN — I don’t recommend using AVG. High censorship countries such as China, UAE, and Turkey have extremely restrictive firewalls, and you need a VPN that has obfuscation tools and stealth protocols needed to bypass the block.
Here’s what I found customer support says on their community forum regarding the Chinese restrictions:
A reply from its support representative on a question whether AVG Secure can work in China
Simultaneous Device Connections — Up to 10 Devices at Once
You can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously, which is a lot compared to some other VPNs.
It used to be 5, but as of April 2021, you can use it with up to 10 devices, which is a solid change. Unfortunately, those who took out their subscription before can only connect up to 5 devices until it renews.
Subscriptions purchased after April 2021 allow for 10 simultaneous devices
I managed to connect 5 devices at once, and I noticed a slight difference in speed, but nothing major.
However, I found it disappointing that on a 7-day free trial, you can only use AVG Secure VPN on 1 device. So, if you were hoping to use the trial to test out how it works on your laptop and your tablet or phone, you're out of luck because you can't connect both of them at once to test it.
Device Compatibility — Supports Most Mainstream Devices and OSs
In my experience, it is not the most versatile VPN on the market when it comes to device compatibility. AVG supports Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. No Linux support, though.
Also, if you were hoping to use it with your Firestick device — I have to disappoint you. AVG Secure VPN is not compatible with Fire OS, so it can’t be installed on Amazon Fire Stick.
There is no smart DNS tool either, which means you can’t set it up on your home router. Smart DNS is a great tool that can allow you to use content unblocking features from the VPN using devices that do not have native VPN support, like home routers.
It’s not the best choice for gaming either because it is incompatible with game consoles and TV streaming devices. I have a PS4 and could not play it using this VPN.