If you're tired of wondering whether a VPN provider can be trusted, Avast SecureLine should appeal immediately. It's a simple VPN from the popular antivirus provider Avast Software, so you can be sure that the firm knows what it’s doing and you're going to get an acceptable level of service.
This doesn't translate into a lengthy list of features, however. There's no tracker or ad-blocking, no real configurability, an average set of 27 locations in 19 countries – it's not bad, more focused on being ‘just good enough’.
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It's a similar story with the price. £44.99 per year ($55, AU$73) isn't expensive enough to raise an eyebrow, but it is a higher rate than you'll pay for a lot of the more feature-packed competition, and this only covered our Windows system. Each extra device requires a separate subscription (adding a Mac would be another £24.99/$30.50/AU$24.99 a year, Android/iOS devices are £7.99/$9.75/AU$13 each).
You're clearly paying a premium for the Avast name, but there are other benefits, including some quality easy-to-use native clients. And even if the service does seem expensive, a no-strings 7-day trial gives you the time to try it for yourself, no payment details required.
Avast has so many services and applications that it can be a challenge to find policy details on SecureLine, but head off to the FAQs section of the support site and you'll uncover some clues.
The company explains that there's no logging of your internet activities, the sites you access, packet data or even the bandwidth used. That's a good start, although as with many other VPNs there's no detail on what might be logged when you initially connect to the service.
Avast also states that it won't sell your data to third-parties, or insert ads into your browser.
We couldn't find any information on how Avast would handle legal requests for VPN data. But as Avast is a Czech-based company with a strong incentive to maintain user privacy, and big enough to afford the best lawyers, we suspect the company won't hand anything over easily.
Other issues in the small-print included confirmation that torrents are allowed, although only at Avast's data centre locations. There are nine of these covering the US, UK, Europe and South America.
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Avast knows what it's doing with security software, and the Windows client was one of the most polished and professional we've tried. Installation was quick and hassle-free, it was supremely easy-to-use, and everything worked just as we expected.
A lot of this was due to the simplicity of the service. There are no complex settings to get in the way: you just launch the client, click Connect to access the closest server, or choose your preferred location from a list.
If you try to connect to an unsecured hotspot then SecureLine will also pop up and ask if you'd like it to protect you, a handy extra as it's easy to forget to connect manually.
This all makes for a smooth and straightforward experience, and the news only got better when testing began. In our tests*, our best-case UK-UK connection showed latency was up by a third, but download speeds saw a minimal fall of around 5% compared to what we would normally get, and were consistently over 35Mbps.
SecureLine's US-UK speeds were also well above average. Latency doubled and upload speeds dropped by two-thirds, but downloads were still averaging around 28Mbps. That was within 20% of our no-VPN speed results, and two to three times the rates we've seen with many competitors. Avast may be expensive, but at least you can see where the money is going.
Easy-to-use and with excellent performance, Avast SecureLine is a great VPN choice for a single computer. But if you need multiple devices, beware – you'll pay extra for each one, and you can't set up SecureLine on your router as a shortcut.
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*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we've reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.