AVG is best known for its popular antivirus, but it also offers a VPN. With such a great reputation for security, you would expect this VPN to be robust and of high-quality. It certainly has top-notch encryption and protocols, but what about the rest of its features? Let’s take a look.
- US Netflix and Hulu
- Excellent support staff
- Very easy to use
- Extremely cheap
- Excellent device compatibility
- Free version
- Below average speeds
- Very low server count
Speed & Expectations
Speed is a crucial factor to consider before you buy a VPN, since they slow your speed down due to the extra VPN tunnel your connection has to go through.
That’s why we perform very comprehensive speed tests for every VPN we review.
We tested the three standard speed metrics:
- Download speed: The rate at which data is transferred from the server to your device. This is measured in megabytes per second (mbps) and a higher number is better.
- Upload speed: The rate at which data is transferred to the server from your device. This is also measured in megabytes per second (mbps) and a higher number is better.
- Ping (or latency): Tested by “pinging” the server, it’s the amount of time it takes for it to receive and process your request. This is measured in milliseconds (ms) and a lower number is better.
First we performed a baseline test, without the VPN, using a 100mbps internet connection in Chicago, IL.
Then we ran tests using AVG Secure VPN. We tested various server locations across the main continents, and performed each test 5 times to increase reliability.
AVG VPN Speed Test
These are the results of our baseline test:
So the average baseline score was:
- Download: 76mbps
- Upload: 11.9mbps
- Ping: 9.4ms
Next we ran our tests on a AVG United States server:
US averages of the 5 different speed tests were:
- Download: 33.3mbps (56.3% slower)
- Upload: 9.7mbps (19% slower)
- Ping: 105.4ms (1021.3% longer)
(You would expect these speeds to be the best considering we are based in the US, so server distance is the shortest).
Next we tested Europe:
Europe’s averages were:
- Download: 9.8mbps (87.1% slower)
- Upload: 5.1mbps (57.6% slower)
- Ping: 113.8ms (1110.6% longer)
Asia’s averages were:
- Download: 23.9mbps (68.5% slower)
- Upload: 3mbps (75% slower)
- Ping: 236.8ms (2419.1% longer)
Next, South America:
South America’s averages were:
- Download: 19.3mbps (74.6% slower)
- Upload: 2.4mbps (80.3% slower)
- Ping: 344ms (3559.6% longer)
Finally, we tested Africa:
Africa’s averages were:
- Download: 24.3mbps (68.1% slower)
- Upload: 2.8mbps (76.7% slower)
- Ping: 323ms (3336.2% longer)
These numbers are overwhelming by themselves, so let’s compare these results against our speed tests for other competitor VPNs.
First up, let’s take a look at download speeds:
|AVG Secure VPN||-56%||-87%||-69%||-75%||-68%|
Download speeds are above average for Asia, just above average for Africa, average for South America, but below average for the US and Europe.
Next, how did upload speeds compare?
|AVG Secure VPN||-19%||-58%||-75%||-80%||-77%|
Upload speeds were unfortunately below average across the board, scoring the slowest result for the US.
And finally latency:
|AVG Secure VPN||1021%||1111%||2419%||3560%||3336%|
Latency speeds are also disappointing. They are below average for everywhere except Asia where they are just above average. AVG scores the slowest result for both the US, South America and Asia, with the US score particularly being extreme.
AVG Secure VPN unfortunately showed below average speeds overall in our testing. Download speeds were average, but both upload and latency were below average, particularly for the US.
Performance & Features
Is AVG heavy on its features? In this section we look at the standard features VPNs offer and see how AVG measures up.
Number of servers: 56.
How many active servers are available to connect to across all countries, regardless of their physical location.
This is a very low number of servers. Most quality VPNs tend to have at least 500, if not thousands to reduce server loads, such as PIA’s 3000.
There’s just one server per country available for most countries, aside from the US which has a massive 16 servers.
Number of countries: numbers: 35.
How many countries the total number of servers cover, regardless of how many are located in a single country.
Again this is pretty low and covers only the most ‘popular’ countries VPN-wise. For example there’s only 1 African country and 2 South American countries covered.
If you need more, PureVPN holds the record with 140 countries.
Number of connections allowed: 1-5
How many devices can be connected to a server (or number of servers) based on a single VPN account or subscription.
5 is the average number offered by VPNs, enough to cover most people’s devices.
However there’s a big caveat here: you have to download the free trial on a desktop computer first. If you purchase straight off the website, you only get 1 device.
If you purchase outside a desktop, you get 5 connections but only for similar Android or iOS devices, which is pretty useless for most people.
This is very confusing and unfair, particularly as they don’t explain this anywhere on their website.
Torrenting allowed: A few servers.
Whether you can download and share files on a peer-to-peer or P2P network as opposed to a single server.
AVG does allow torrenting, and it has specialist P2P servers. However, there are only 8 of them, 3 US and 5 European servers. This could mean slow speeds and connection issues, especially in peak periods.
Heavy torrentors might want to look elsewhere, such as ExpressVPN.
Kill switch available: No.
Whether the VPN software can disable your connection to the network in the event you disconnect from the VPN server. This prevents your IP address from being exposed.
AVG doesn’t have any kill switch capabilities, which is a shame.
Performance and Features (Summary)
AVG Secure VPN definitely comes in below-average on features, with a very low number of servers. Torrenting is allowed but only on a few servers, and there’s no kill switches available. It does allow 5 connections though, but only if you download the trial via desktop.
Privacy & Security
If privacy is the main reason you buy a VPN, you want to make sure your VPN’s security is watertight in all areas. This doesn’t just mean it’s encryption, but also things like legal concerns.
First let’s test AVG’s technical security:
Protocols/Encryption: AES-256 encryption with OpenVPN/IPsec protocols
AVG uses top-strength AES-256 encryption, which is the same as used by the US government. It uses OpenVPN UDP protocols for Windows and IPsec for Mac.
OpenVPN is again industry-standard and extremely secure. It’s just a shame they don’t offer more flexibility to suit different users needs. A lot of VPNs let users choose their protocol.
Next we tested AVG for any leaks or viruses. A leak means your real IP address isn’t being hidden by the VPN at all times as it should be.
DNS leaks: None found.
IP leaks: None found.
WebRTC leaks: None.
Viruses/Malware: None found.
Fortunately we didn’t find any leaks, viruses or malware in our testing.
Jurisdiction: Czech Republic. AVG Secure VPN is located in the Czech Republic. This is outside the Five Eyes Alliance, but it’s part of the EU, which has stringent data-retention laws that seem to be only getting stricter. They’ve also cooperated with Five Eyes countries in the past.
Logging policy: Records some logs.
A logging policy is what the VPN itself records of you and your online activities. Normally VPNs claim that they have a ‘no-logs’ policy, where they do not log any individual user data.
AVG state that they collect the following info:
- a time stamp when you connect and disconnect to our VPN service;
- the amount data transmitted (upload and download) during your session;
- the IP address used by you to connect to our VPN; and
- the IP address of the individual VPN server used by you.
They store this data for 30 days except in exceptional circumstances.
They clearly state they don’t record the websites you connect to, or any of the data sent or received over their network.
But basically it records timestamps, bandwidth and your real IP address. This is definitely ‘identifiable’ data and not ideal for VPN users. It would make it fairly easy for authorities to track you down if necessary.
Privacy and Security Summary
AVG Secure VPN performs well technically, with robust security and no leaks. But it does record some data on you, and to make matters worse it’s based in the EU and owned by Avast, which has a history of reporting data to the authorities. Not great.
We’ve covered speed, features and security, but how usable is the VPN?
This section looks at the following usability aspects:
- Overall UI/UX
Many people purchase a VPN purely for streaming purposes, since services like Netflix show content specific to your location.
Unfortunately, Netflix has got very good at detecting VPN usage and many VPNs have no or very little streaming access nowadays.
We tested all major streaming services using AVG across the US, Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.
- Netflix: Partially detected. AVG has 4 Streaming servers, but 2 of these were blocked. However, all normal servers worked fine except for Asia and South America. This is outstanding compared to most VPNs.
- Hulu: Undetected. Hulu also worked on US servers. Another great result.
- YouTube: Undetected. YouTube worked on all servers, but this is the easiest to unblock.
- Kodi: Detected. Unfortunately, Kodi didn’t pass the test and was blocked at all locations.
AVG VPN Compatibility
You get 5 connections with AVG, but are all your devices supported by it?
We tested everything from Tor, iOS devices, Android devices, Smart TV’s, Amazon Firestick, Mac, Windows, to routers:
- Tor browser: Supported. We were able to use Tor just fine in conjunction with AVG Secure VPN.
- iOS (iPad, iPhone): Supported. AVG supports Apple devices running iOS, including the latest versions of iPad and iPhone.
- Android: Supported. AVG also works with Google’s Android operating system which covers everything from smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even TV media sticks.
- Smart TV’s: Not Supported. Unfortunately AVG doesn’t offer any support for Smart TVs, but this is not that common.
- Amazon Firestick: Not Supported. Firesticks aren’t supported either, but this is even less common.
- Windows: Supported.
- Mac: Supported.
- Routers: Not Supported. Sadly AVG doesn’t offer any kind of router support either, which is disappointing.
Finally, what’s the interface like and what is AVG like to use? We looked at both Windows and Android.
AVG’s desktop version has a very simple interface with the welcome panel only showing an on-off button.
If you turn the VPN on, it will automatically connect to what it deems the best server.
If you want to change your location, you have to click the blue ‘Change location’ text. This takes you to a second screen showing all servers.
To me this two-screen UI isn’t very efficient, because every time you want to change or just check out servers you have to click through to another screen. It becomes quite tiresome after a while. A lot of VPNs have all their servers listed on the main screen.
The server screen is again very minimalistic. The server list is small since there aren’t many servers, but there’s also a sidebar categorising them by continent for easy navigation. The flag icons help too.
The special P2P and Streaming servers are also listed in a separate category, as well as in the main list with a P2P or video icon label.
There’s no Search bar or option to favorite servers. But with so few servers and easy navigation this isn’t a big deal.
Settings can be accessed on the main screen in the top right-hand corner, but they are pretty much a non-entity.
All you can do is change the language, start-up options and exclude some trusted networks if you want to.
No kill switch, split tunnelling, protocol options, etc. You can’t even auto-connect to a specific server.
Overall this is a very simplistic VPN that is very easy to use for beginners. However I feel like because of this the interface is unnecessarily huge. They could easily make it a lot smaller.
Next, we looked at the app.
The app (we tested Android) works in exactly the same way as the desktop version with a similar sleek look.
There’s only a few small differences. Instead of a sidebar, servers are listed in continent order, which makes the most of the decreased space.
Strangely the specialist servers, P2P and Streaming, are just listed as normal servers. They don’t even have an icon label to identify them. This was a very poor UI decision, as app-only users won’t have a clue which servers to use.
Settings are even more minimal with no language option available.
AVG Secure VPN is ideal for streamers, with excellent Netflix everywhere except Asia and South America. Hulu works too. AVG is compatible with all standard devices and Tor but not Smart TVs, Firesticks, or any router support whatsoever. The interface is simple and sleek but the two-screen approach is tiresome and there’s no advanced settings available.
AVG VPN Pricing & Refunds
AVG Secure VPN has a crazy pricing system in that there are two separate prices available depending on how and where you purchase it.
If you buy the software outright, it costs $6.66 a month, which is an above average price. You also don’t get the multi-device 5 connections.
But if you get the trial on the desktop version first, it drops to $3.99 max and you get the 5 connections.
That’s a very large price difference, not to mention that you pay more for less connections.
This is extremely sneaky and unfair of AVG, penalizing those who trust the brand enough not to use the trial first.
So the bottom line is: download the trial version on your desktop first to get the best deal.
AVG also demands a 1-year commitment minimum. This is harsh, as almost all other VPNs offer a 1-month option, and a lot offer 3-month and 6-month options as well.
This is going to put a lot of people off.
Having said that, there is also a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you change your mind or get screwed over on price, you can always back out.
The 1 year price is definitely cheap. However, the discounts offered for the 2 and 3 year options actually aren’t as deep as a lot of other VPNs, so they are closer to average.
The refund period is 30 days, which seems long but is actually standard for a lot of VPNs.
Payment options are sparse, offering just credit card or Paypal.
A lot of other VPNs offer a much wider variety of options such as Alipay and particularly cryptocurrency, to keep your VPN subscription anonymous.
As mentioned, AVG has a 7-day free trial for both desktop and mobile versions. There are no payment details required on the Windows version, but these are required for the mobile apps.
The trial is full access which is great. The only difference is you can only use it on 1 device at a time, which is fair enough.
AVG Secure VPN has a sneaky pricing strategy, and you have to download the trial on a desktop first to get the best deal. But these prices are cheap, with a 30-day money-back guarantee if you change your mind.
AVG has a 7-day free trial, but after that you have to commit to at least a year. The signup process is smooth, but there’s not a lot of payment options; just credit card and Paypal.
In terms of free support, only email or their Support Community is available.
The email support is accessed by the ‘Get more help’ button at the bottom of any Support page. You then fill in a form to send an email via a ticket-based system.
You get an auto-email confirming they’ve received your query. However, we found email support to be very slow to respond, around 36 hours. On the plus side, the answers were pretty thorough.
There is also a Support Community where you can post questions, and these tend to be responded to a bit quicker than emails.
Although this covers all AVG products, there’s a specific ‘AVG VPN’ category you can select to see only VPN queries.
A major advantage is that you can also see other questions people have asked and AVG’s response. This is very useful for troubleshooting, and is also a nice level of transparency.
You can also get phone support in theory, but you have to pay an extortionate amount for it.
This is a generalised service offered for all AVG products (such as their antivirus) and is way more than you pay for a year’s worth of VPN. Infact before you pay for one phone call, it would probably be cheaper to cut your losses and pay double for another VPN that offers free support.
To be fair free phone support is rare in the VPN world, but other VPNs offer quality 24/7 live chat.
What about their knowledge base?
Again this covers all AVG products, and there’s no VPN category this time so it’s all mashed together.
You can search their main support page with specific queries, but articles relating to some other products may come up in the search results.
The Windows and Mac FAQs are a lot more comprehensive than the Android/iOS.
However, we found some of the FAQs to be incorrect or insufficient, for example the number of connections allowed.
AVG Secure VPN support is by email or through posting on the Support Community. It’s slow but of decent quality, and the Support Community shows all previous questions asked by users.
The knowledge base is OK with some setup and troubleshooting guides, but it is a bit confusing to navigate and the information isn’t always sufficient.
What Do Other Reviewers Say?
That concludes our testing and evaluation of AVG Secure VPN, but we recognise it’s also important to get other perspectives. In this section we take a look at other reviews and sum up their opinions on the software.
Like us, all reviewers agreed the interface was extremely simple and easy to use, ideal for beginners. However, not one of them disliked the two-screen approach.
Speed test results varied massively, with reports of both fast and slow speeds. Some reported good download speeds, and fast speeds in the US and Europe but slow elsewhere. Most agreed it had a steady, reliable performance.
Most were not impressed with the customer support. Some called it average and some called it poor. Most said the email support was slow, but one said responses were non-existent. One also mentioned that the knowledge base was basic.
However one praised the Support, stating that the Community Support page responds in 1-2 hours, and that sometimes you can also access live chat by first going through their Technical Support live chat.
Opinions also differed on price. Some like us said it was cheap, whilst others thought it was expensive especially for the lack of features on offer. However, these tended to quote the higher $6.66 price rather than the trial price.
Most agreed that the basic security was there, with good encryption and no leaks. However they also bemoaned the low number of server locations and lack of advanced features available, especially the lack of kill switch and other protocols, as well as custom dns settings and ad-blocking/malware protection.
Some praised the specialist P2P servers, whilst some noted the lack of options available.
Most didn’t report the same wide Netflix access that we found: some reported US only, and one reported US and Japan. Most were still impressed by this, however, as Netflix access is hard to come by. They also reported that the UK streaming server worked with BBC iPlayer.
One review stated that the logging policy doesn’t log any of its users activities, but most agreed that the logging policy was worrying or suspicious. One even called it the worst policy they’ve ever seen. However they also stated that AVG routinely stores data for 3 months, and this has been recently reduced to 30 days.
One said it was good that AVG was based in the Czech Republic as this isn’t part of 14-eyes, but most noted that the Czech Republic is in the EU and has cooperated with 14-eyes in the past.
What Do Other Reviewers Say (Summary)
Reviewers were impressed with the usability, basic security and streaming access of AVG, but most weren’t so impressed with the lack of advanced features, support and their logging policy. Most reported less Netflix access than we found in our testing. Speed results varied, and there were mixed conclusions on whether AVG was worth it for the price.
AVG Secure VPN is definitely a budget VPN. It’s cheap and it’s interface is extremely simple and easy to use, which is ideal for beginners.
All basic security is covered with industry-standard encryption and protocols, and no leaks were found in our testing. Tor and some torrenting access is available.
Support is slow but of decent quality and the Support Community is nice. At the end of the day you can’t expect too much for the price.
And one major bonus is the Netflix and Hulu access, which beats a lot of top, more expensive VPNs. This makes it ideal for VPN newbies who are just looking stream at a cheap price.
On the downside though, it’s got below average speeds. Speeds were still high enough for streaming in the US and Europe, but not elsewhere.
It’s also got very low server numbers, with just 56 available.
There’s literally no advanced features here, the biggest one of which is there’s no kill switch.
We also really weren’t impressed with its sneaky and complex pricing, based on how you purchase the VPN. On the flip side, it does have a trial and a generous 30-day money-back guarantee.
Unfortunately, AVG also has one big red flag: its logging policy. It doesn’t log the websites you visit, but it does log everything else. And being owned by Avast and based in the Czech Republic adds to the risk factor.
To sum up, it could be a potential budget VPN for streamers, but be wary of it’s logging policy. We give AVG Secure VPN an overall rating of 3.5 out of 5 and recommend it only if you meet its specific best-use cases.
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