A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is an alternate network that first encrypts, then transmits your data securely via the internet.
The purpose of a VPN is to protect your personal data (such as your IP address), allow you to use Wi-Fi securely, enable private browsing sessions, and give you access to restricted or censored websites.
VPN’s are no longer limited to laptops and PCs. You can now use VPN services on your other devices like your Android device or an iPhone.
In this review, we’ll be looking at the features of a service from a popular brand, AVG, but not its antivirus program, specifically the AVG Secure VPN.
Features of the AVG SECURE VPN
|Parent Company||Avast Software S.R.O., The Czech Republic|
|Locations||29 servers in 50 countries|
|Encryption||160-bit, 256-bit AES (Windows)|
|Protocols||OpenVPN and UDP (Windows)|
|Security||No leaks, malware or viruses|
|Support||Fair; submit tickets for support response|
|Netflix / Streaming||Limited availability|
|Ease of Use||Good; Fast and easy to set up|
|Free Trial||Available; for up to 30 days|
How Does AVG VPN Work?
If you are researching various VPN services to find the right service for you, you should know the basics of how these VPN services work.
As you connect to the internet, you simply activate your VPN service, which immediately connects you to one of the VPN’s supported servers. Different VPN providers have a different number of server locations around the world.
Your device will be given a unique IP address, which while identifying your device, masks the identity of your real IP address as you browse through the internet.
At the same time, all your data is encrypted, or given a code restricting unauthorized access to your information, by the VPN server. Encrypting personal data takes your information and scrambles it into a code so it’s very difficult or impossible to hack into your data.
This is important because if you talk to any computer crimes investigation unit, they can verify that hackers are always coming up with new ways to steal your data. By simply intercepting the stream of your data, hackers can easily get sensitive information. But when you are using a VPN, instead of seeing your personal information, hackers instead see a scrambled, undetectable code.
Why Consider AVG VPN?
The first and most obvious reason to use a VPN is to provide extra security and protection for your personal data.
In its early development stages, VPN technology was invented as a means for workers to access company data from home or another remote location. In that way, sensitive corporate information was encrypted and accessed via a secure internet connection.
Today, while the concept is basically the same, advanced technology allows you to use it to protect your personal data in the same secure way.
By using the encrypted AVG VPN protection, here are some of the additional benefits to you:
Easy to Use
AVG Secure VPN offers a simple yet powerful service. Just download, complete the installation and enjoy more secure internet browsing in minutes with just a few clicks.
The AVG VPN can run up to five devices at the same time. The software is compatible with Windows (PC or laptop), in addition to iOS devices, Android, and Mac.
Public Wi-Fi…Only Safer!
Although public Wi-Fi is a nice, free and convenient service offered by a lot of places like airports, coffee shops, restaurants, etc., think very carefully about jumping on a public Wi-Fi service.
Since anyone can use public Wi-Fi, you can see the potential for security and privacy concerns. If everyone has access to it, the odds of a hacker breaking into your data is increased. By a lot.
Anyone with just enough knowledge of how to hack into a public Wi-Fi stream means that they can see, share, track and steal any information you share on the internet.
For example, if you are paying bills, your banking information may be up for grabs. Hackers can also gain access to your personal messages, connections, data and well, the list goes on.
By using the AVG VPN, your communication and internet activity is encrypted to the assigned server. Unless hackers are able to break your private code, which is highly unlikely, then all your information is kept private and secure. There is also a Wi-Fi auto-connect feature.
The AVG VPN uses the most secure 256-bit encryption for your protection. This is the gold tier of encryption standards used by banks and governments. Meanwhile, it protects your internet browsing activity from ISP trackers, hackers, and even government surveillance.
A recognized brand name in the industry, AVG VPN has a reliable track record. It provides a good level of security from IP or DNS leaks.
For safer, enjoyable streaming, the AVG VPN connects you to the internet anywhere your provider has a server. You can stream your favorite TV shows, movies or music from just about anywhere just like you’re at home.
Discourage ISP Tracking
Did you know that your internet provider can track everything you do online? It can see, track and even store this information.
All of your browsing activity, which includes what you read, view, watch, research or click can be seen and even stored by your internet service provider.
Did you ever search for a certain product or service online and then experience a wave of similar advertisements that pop up? That’s no coincidence. Your internet provider can track your activity and then sell your information to advertisers, subscription services or whoever else will pay for it.
By encrypting your browsing sessions with the AVG VPN, your internet service provider can no longer see any of your activity. It is all nice and private.
Why Is Online Privacy So Important?
You know the popular line, “There’s an app for that.” Yes, and there’s also social media. The more apps and social media platforms you are using, the greater you increase the odds of exposure to hackers, government surveillance and ISP’s tracking, storing and selling your browsing activity.
Your personal preferences, habits, interests, purchases, etc. are all tracked and accounted for. This is one way those telemarketers are getting your information, by buying it from someone who is selling online.
Your life will change dramatically if your identity is stolen by a hacker. Once in, they can get enough details to piece together a path to your credit card information, social security number, bank accounts, and other personal data.
They can potentially hack into so many aspects of your life.
AVG VPN Pros
- Established brand name
- Works with PC, Mac, Android, and iOS
- Capable of connecting to five devices simultaneously
- Easy to use
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Secure; No leaks
- Top notch OpenVPN support
- 24/7 phone support
- Free trial and 30-day money back guarantee
AVG VPN Cons
- Only about 29 available servers
- Slow connection/upload/download speed depending on location/server
- Questionable logging policy
- Limited streaming features
- Netflix blocked on several servers
- Limited P2P torrenting
- Lack of tunneling protocols
- Not compatible with routers
- Not compatible with Smart TV’s or gaming consoles
- Lack of short-term usage options
- Lacks special DNS features for security such as a kill switch
- Lack of settings to prevent security leaks in case of software malfunction
- Not compatible with third-party applications; AVG apps only
- Can’t use this VPN with Tor
Software / Apps
The AVG VPN is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices. The software is not compatible with third-party software, so AVG apps are exclusive to your devices and cannot be customized using others.
The 256-bit encryption and OpenVPN protocol are available only for the Windows platform. A Mac uses IPsec and iOS devices are not compatible with the OpenVPN protocol. It may not be possible to run all of your devices on the AVG VPN based on capability restrictions.
The app is user-friendly and easy to use/configure. You can also test the app during a free 30-day trial so you can try it for yourself and get familiar with the features.
The software allows you to choose the option of automatically connecting to a specific optimized server location. You are notified by an alert when you are connected for private browsing.
The app allows you to manually select a server with one click. A list of available servers pops up for you to make a manual selection. You can narrow down a server search by region to make it faster. You can also search for a server with the special features you need such as P2P for torrenting or streaming servers.
AVG VPN Performance / Speed
While AVG VPN seemed to perform nicely from the North American and European servers, the rest of the servers performed at either average or slow speeds. Streaming and/or downloading data from North American or European servers should not be a problem.
It’s a good idea to use a VPN for torrenting due to the nature of sharing information with your peers (P2P sharing). While engaging in torrenting without a VPN, you are exposing your real IP address. This opens you up to tracking, tracing and the potential hacking of your personal information.
With that being said, the AVG VPN torrenting option is limited. There are three servers in the U.S. and one dedicated European server per P2P location. There are a total of eight dedicated P2P servers worldwide.
This is a relatively low number of dedicated P2P servers which poses potential performance issues during peak usage periods. It could cause overload and slow processing speeds down considerably.
Usage with Netflix / BBC iPlayer / General Streaming
As I’m sure you know, Netflix gained a ton of popularity over the last few years. Streaming Netflix is becoming as common as using a cell phone.
Netflix, among other streaming sites, prefers to block streaming capabilities whenever possible. Because AVG VPN has so few server locations, it’s easier for platforms like Netflix to block them and prevent its users from accessing their streaming services. A general rule of thumb is that the more server locations offered by a VPN, the easier it is for its users to unblock access and bypass streaming services geoblocks.
However, with AVG VPN to date, despite its low number of servers, its been possible to unblock and stream Netflix from most North American server locations. The other server locations have not been as successful, and it may not be possible to unblock and stream the service using these.
Server locations in the UK successfully bypassed the geoblocks needed to watch BBC iPlayer.
If you are looking for a VPN to give you reliable streaming access, be aware that the AVG VPN may not always give you the successful results you are looking for. If the number of servers is expanded in the future, it may eliminate this potential issue.
Can you Use AVG VPN in China?
Due to China’s Great Firewall and limitations on AVG VPN’s obfuscation settings and server network, you cannot use this VPN in China.
Privacy / Logging / Security
While AVG VPN runs 256-bit AES encryption along with the most secure OpenVPN protocol, those options are only available for the Windows platform. The OpenVPN protocol is not available on mobile devices, and Mac users run the IPsec protocol.
Additional security features such as custom DNS settings or a kill switch would be welcome updates in future releases/updates of the VPN.
The parent company’s location in the Czech Republic is an ideal location for protection against having your private data accessed by government agencies. Although more restrictive on what it shares with different governments, it still fully cooperates by releasing data on unlawful computer network activities.
AVG VPN’s logging policy is somewhat questionable because it keeps logs of personal information. This means that it has personal data such as your real IP address, contact location, banking information, bandwidth and time stamps on file for up to 30 days.
AVG VPN Pricing
It states on the AVG VPN website that the price is $79.99 per year. However, before you buy, the better option is to first download the free trial version, which is good for 30 days.
Once your free trial has expired, you can go into the subscription menu from your account that details its various payment plans.
Pricing is set up on an annual payment plan only. There is not an option for a shorter period of time, such as monthly or quarterly.
The lowest price for the AVG VPN is $47.88 per year, depending on the level of service you purchase.
This price indicates the basic service plan. It doesn’t include advanced features such as anti-malware or adblocker options. If you want those advanced features, you will have to pay extra for them.
The advanced features are separated into different packages. For example, one package includes a secure browser with an ad blocker but does not offer more security against malware, which is available in a separate package.
Payment can be made by credit card, debit card or via PayPal, which requires you to provide a credit card number associated with your account. There is no option to pay anonymously through cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.
This means that your personal payment information can be kept on file (see logging information) for up to 30 days. Although the Terms of Service and User Agreement for AVG VPN states your information is secure and will not be shared, it is still kept on file.
Overall, the price is not bad for a basic VPN service and is competitive with other similar VPN providers.
AVG Secure VPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
AVG VPN Customer Service / Product Support
AVG VPN provides 24/7 product support. For support, users can complete a ticket but may have to deal with the long response time.
Live chat or phone support in real time is only available for paying customers, which may be an issue if you experience a problem during the trial period.
Should you have a technical question and need to speak with an expert who can walk you through a more involved issue, then you will need to pay a fee for this service. This can be costly depending on the technical issue, so check the fine print for the cost of technical service calls for assistance.
The bottom line is that it offers a ‘frequently asked questions’ style troubleshooting section with guides and a help ticket request system. Live chat and phone support are reserved for paying customers.
For the basic service, there are no bells, whistles or other advanced features.
It is user-friendly and easy to get up and running quickly. It also offers a great 30-day free trial and uses the highly acclaimed 256-bit encryption. It’s a fairly good VPN service for streaming, particularly in the U.S. and UK.
If you need something with more advanced tunneling and security options, shorter-term subscription options or more advanced features and capabilities in general, keep shopping around for other VPN services that can fulfill your specific needs.
Overall, the AVG Secure VPN offers good basic security measures, unblocking and streaming features at a reasonable price.