It’s becoming increasingly common for people who browse the web to use VPNs as a form of defence against privacy breaches. And it’s quite probable that you will have noticed the growing number of VPN services advertised regularly. This is an industry rapidly becoming mainstream.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network.
Using a VPN will allow you to hide important information like your IP address, online activity, and more from prying eyes. This could include governments, businesses, and criminals, all of whom have their own reasons for wanting access to people’s information.
AVG is one of several companies known for making antivirus software that has more recently dipped its toes into the VPN market (Kaspersky and Avast are another two that you might know). You can buy the VPN independently or as part of a package deal with the company’s antivirus suite.
The first thing to say is that AVG uses the industry standard 256-AES encryption, the gold standard for a VPN. This is the same encryption that banks and governments use, so you can trust its bona fides. Our tests revealed no IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks, meaning that there are no major security issues to be concerned about.
It’s good to know that the VPN is equipped with a kill switch. A kill switch is a great safety feature that automatically disconnects your device from the internet if the connection to the VPN is broken.
This is a good thing, because without it, you might find your information unprotected in the event the VPN loses connection somehow. Do note that you’ll have to turn this setting on manually; it’s not active by default.
One concerning detail is that the AVG VPN keeps connection logs and also keeps service data for a certain period. Even if the company promises not to release any such data, it’s not ideal that it could theoretically be leaked.
More specifically, AVG keep records of when you are connected to the VPN and the total amount of data transmitted while you were connected. This information is held by the company for 35 days and could, in theory, be given (or sold) to another entity, or else leaked.
There is nothing in particular to suggest that this is a risk, but the possibility itself is still unsettling.
This worry is compounded by another factor – Avast, which owns AVG, was in 2019 caught up in a data selling scandal. It turned out that they had been selling user data of their antivirus software users through one of its subsidiary companies.
Though the company apologized for this and even disbanded the subsidiary responsible, some people might understandably find it difficult to trust a company with that kind of track record. Whether you believe that they’ve truly turned over a new leaf is up to you.
The company is headquartered in the Czech Republic, which is not part of the Five Eyes/Nine Eyes/Fourteen Eyes intelligence sharing alliances.
This is a strong plus for your data security, because it means that none of those countries nor their government agencies will be able to lean directly on the company to provide information.
However, the Czech Republic has been known to cooperate with those countries in at least some situations, so the risk isn’t entirely gone.
Another big selling point for VPNs is that they can be used to get around region locking restrictions on streaming content. Netflix, for example, region locks much of its content so that it can only be accessed from certain places.
If you want to get around these restrictions, a VPN is the quickest way, since it can make you and your device appear to be somewhere else.
AVG VPN does offer special servers for streaming as part of its package (though only in the US and UK). However, whether you can use them to actually unblock region locked content is another matter.
There is an ongoing back and forth struggle between streaming services and VPNs. Streaming services block VPNs from accessing their content and VPNs change to stop the blocking. It’s a bit of an arms race.
At this stage of proceedings, the streaming services seem to have the upper hand over AVG. In our tests, we were unable to access Netflix or BBC iPlayer, two of the most sought after streaming services.
It’s possible that this will change soon – as we said, the struggle between VPNs and streaming services is ongoing and constantly shifting, and we have seen other reviews that state that the user had no problems with some, or all, of the streaming sites they tried to access with AVG.
But, at the time of writing, AVG’s streaming access is not 100% successful.
For the most part, the speeds you can get with AVG are pretty solid. Special mention goes to the download speeds, which are above average for a VPN. This is great if you want to stream content, and you’ll find that the ping (latency) is also pretty good.
That makes this a viable VPN option to consider if you wish to play online games.
The only area where it doesn’t quite measure up is when it comes to upload speeds. This is generally less important than download speeds for most people, but is something to consider when you’re considering the best VPN for you.
However, we would also point out that taking speed as your primary criterion when choosing a VPN might not be the wisest idea. VPN speeds in general are notoriously changeable, differing hugely from place to place and occasion to occasion.
While some are noticeably are quicker than others overall, there’s such variation as to make it hard to measure with much objectivity.
Unfortunately, AVG VPN only offers 56 servers, an extremely low number. When you consider that some of its competitors have servers numbering in the thousands (over 5000 in the case of ExpressVPN, for example), 56 starts to seem a little inadequate.
Even other small providers usually offer at least several hundred, so to AVG having so few servers is a touch surprising.
On the plus side, AVG’s servers are spread out across 36 different countries, but this doesn’t quite make up for the small number of servers overall.
However, as mentioned above, AVG does provide servers that are particularly suited for streaming, as well as for torrenting. This is a plus, since there are some VPNs that specifically don’t allow their users to torrent.
If speed and the number and location of servers is an important consideration for you, then please read our review of the Kaspersky VPN. Whilst having some faults, the Kaspersky VPN does excel in these areas.
Subscription Plans And Pricing
AVG VPN comes with three different subscription plans: 1 year, 2 year, or 3 year versions. Some people might be a bit disappointed that there aren’t shorter periods (e.g. 6 months), but for most consumers this isn’t really an issue.
As is usually the case, the longer plans represent a greater overall cost but a lower monthly cost when it’s broken down on a monthly basis. Whichever plan you choose, you’ll be able to run the VPN on ten different devices at the same time.
This is above average for the industry, although some services do offer unlimited simultaneous connections (this is unusual, though).
There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is fairly generous by industry standards. It’s also no questions asked, unlike certain other providers that will ask you why you want a refund before they’ll give it to you.
AVG will allow you a 7-day free trial period. This is a little less than some other VPN providers, some of which will grant you 15 days, or even a whole month. So, while 7 is a little short, it should be more than enough to get a feel for the VPN before you decide whether you wish to commit.
The short trial is also made less important by the 30-day money-back guarantee, as mentioned above. Combining these together, you’ve actually got more than five weeks before you’re totally committed, which should be enough for even the most indecisive customer.
You can pay for your subscription with either a credit or debit card, or with PayPal. Some VPNs will let you pay with other methods, like Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, but that’s not an option with AVG, unfortunately.
If payment by cryptocurrencies is an important consideration for you, then please read our review of the TrustZone VPN. TrustZone is one of the few VPNs that accepts payment in Bitcoin and other cryptos (in fact it offers a 10% discount!).
Like any good VPN, AVG is available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. If you’re planning to use your VPN on video games consoles, though, you’ll be disappointed, as there’s not currently an app for AVG VPN there.
The customer support team usually takes a day to respond to emails, which is about the same speed as you’d get from most other VPNs. However, there is no live chat feature, unlike a lot of AVG’s competitors, which is a bit disappointing.
It means that if you have an issue, you’ll likely be waiting at least a day for it to be solved.
There are online resources that AVG will give you access to however, so you might be able to use these to have a go at solving the problems yourself.
All in all, AVG VPN is a decent contender for your VPN dollar. It’s unlikely it will top your VPN list for all criteria, but is still worth considering if you want to expand your shortlist from the usual suspects and big brand names. Its security is relatively strong, so long as you’re willing to look past the concerns (and forgive the past trangressions) of AVG’s parent company (Avast).
However, the very limited number of servers will, for many consumers, count against it. If AVG is high in your consideration set, ensure that you take advantage of the 7-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee so that you can test it in real-life conditions.