A Virtual Private Network (VPN) offers effective protection from malware, ad tracking, hackers, spies, and censorship. But that privacy and security will cost you an ongoing subscription. There are quite a few options out there, each with varying costs, features and interfaces. Both Avast SecureLine and NorVPN are popular choices for many people, but which is actually better? Before making a decision about which one to go with, take the time to consider your options and weigh up which will best suit you in the long-term.
NordVPN offers a wide selection of servers around the world, and the app’s interface is a map of where they are all located. You protect your computer by clicking on the specific location in the world you want to connect to. Nord focuses on functionality over ease-of-use, and while that adds a little complexity, I still found the app quite straightforward. For a closer look at NordVPN, read our full review here.
Avast SecureLine VPN, from the well-known anti-malware company, doesn’t try to do more than it needs to. The service offers reasonable speed, privacy and security, and few extra features. If you just need a VPN on your mobile device, Avast will be your cheapest option. Read our full Avast SecureLine VPN review here.
How They Compare
1. Privacy: NordVPN
Many computer users feel increasingly vulnerable when using the internet, and rightly so. Your IP address and system information are sent along with each packet as you connect to websites and send and receive data. That’s not very private and allows your ISP, the websites you visit, advertisers, hackers, and governments can keep a log of your online activity.
A VPN can stop unwanted attention by making you anonymous. It trades your IP address for that of the server you connect to, and that can be anywhere in the world. You effectively hide your identity behind the network and become untraceable. At least in theory.
What’s the problem? Your activity isn’t hidden from your VPN provider. So you need to choose a company you can trust: a provider that cares as much about your privacy as you do.
NordVPN has excellent privacy and “no logs” policies. That means they don’t log the sites you visit at all and only log your connections enough to run their businesses (for example, making sure you’re not using more than the number of devices allowed by your plan). They keep as little personal information about you as possible and allow you to pay by Bitcoin so even your financial transactions won’t lead back to you.
Avast SecureLine VPN also doesn’t keep logs of the data you send and receive online, but they log more information about your connections than Nord do: when you connect and disconnect, and how much data you’ve sent and received, and keep the logs for 30 days. They also don’t allow you to pay by Bitcoin—BPAY, credit/debit card, and PayPal are the available options.
Winner: NordVPN has the best privacy practices in the business, though Avast offers enough privacy for most people.
2. Security: NordVPN
When you use a public wireless network, your connection is insecure. Anyone on the same network can use packet sniffing software to intercept and log the data sent between you and the router. They could also redirect you to fake sites where they can steal your passwords and accounts.
VPNs defend against this type of attack by creating a secure, encrypted tunnel between your computer and the VPN server. The hacker can still log your traffic, but because it’s strongly encrypted, it’s totally useless to them. Your security is enhanced but at the expense of performance, which we’ll look at later in the review.
For additional security, Nord offers Double VPN, where your traffic will pass through two servers, getting twice the encryption for double the security. But this comes at an even greater expense of performance.
If you unexpectedly become disconnected from your VPN, your traffic will no longer be encrypted and is vulnerable. To protect you from this happening, Nord provides a kill switch to block all internet traffic until your VPN is active again.
Nord offers one final security feature that Avast doesn’t: a malware blocker. CyberSec blocks suspicious websites to protect you from malware, advertisers, and other threats.
Avast SecureLine offers security through strong encryption but does not have the additional features that Nord does.
Winner: NordVPN. Either provider offers sufficient security for most users, but Nord’s kill switch and CyberSec malware blocker provide a welcome additional level of security, and Double VPN is worth considering when security is your highest priority.
3. Streaming Services: NordVPN
Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other streaming services use the geographic location of your IP address to decide which shows you can and can’t watch. Because a VPN can make it appear that you’re in a country you’re not, they now block VPNs as well. Or they try to.
In my experience, VPNs have wildly varying success in successfully accessing streaming services, and Nord is one of the best. When I tried nine different Nord servers around the world, each one connected to Netflix successfully. It’s the only service I tried that achieved a 100% success rate, though I can’t guarantee you’ll never encounter a failure.
On the other hand, Avast SecureLine was a disaster. I tried twelve servers in total, and only one worked—the worst result out of every VPN that I tried. Netflix somehow worked out that I was using a VPN most of the time, and blocked me. You may have more luck, but based on my experience, I expect you’ll have to work harder with Avast than NordVPN.
I had a similar experience when streaming from BBC iPlayer. Nord worked every time, while only one of the three Avast servers available was successful. Check our Best VPN for Netflix review for more details.
4. Extra Features: NordVPN
I mentioned that NordVPN offers additional security features over Avast SecureLine, including Double VPN and CyberSec. When you dig deeper, this trend continues: Avast offers the basic features in an easy-to-use package, while Nord prioritizes additional functionality.
Nord offers a larger number of servers to connect to (over 5,000 in 60 countries) and includes a feature called SmartPlay, designed to give you effortless access to 400 streaming services. Perhaps that explains the service’s success in streaming from Netflix.
5. User Interface: TIE
If you’re new to VPNs and want the simplest interface, Avast SecureLine may suit you. Its main interface is a simple on/off switch, and that’s hard to get wrong. When the switch is off, you’re unprotected.
When you turn it on, you’re protected. Easy.
To change servers, just click on the “Change Location” button and choose a new one.
By contrast, NordVPN is better suited to users with some familiarity with VPNs. The main interface is a map of where its servers are located around the world. That’s smart since the service’s abundance of servers is one of its key selling points, but it’s not as straightforward to use as its rival.
Winner: Avast SecureLine is the easier to use of the two applications, but achieves this in part by offering fewer features. If the extra features are valuable to you, you won’t find NordVPN much harder to use.
6. Performance: NordVPN
Both services are quite fast, but I give the edge to Nord. The fastest Nord server I encountered had a download bandwidth of 70.22 Mbps, only a little below my normal (unprotected) speed. But I found that server speeds did vary considerably, and the average speed was just 22.75 Mbps. So you may have to try a few servers before you find one you’re happy with.
Avast’s download speeds are a little faster than NordVPN on average (29.85 Mbps), and the fastest server I could find could download at 62.04 Mbps, which really isn’t much slower.
Winner: NordVPN. Both services have acceptable download speeds for most purposes. Nord had servers that were faster, and Avast SecureLine was a little faster on average. If speed is your priority, you’ll probably achieve better results with Nord, but you may have to try a few servers before you find a fast one.
7. Pricing & Value: NordVPN
VPN subscriptions generally have relatively expensive monthly plans, and significant discounts if you pay well in advance. That’s the case with Nord, but Avast takes a different approach.
NordVPN is one of the most inexpensive VPN services you’ll find. A monthly subscription is $11.95, and this is discounted to $6.99 a month if you pay yearly. You’re rewarded for paying even further in advance: its 2-year plan costs just $3.99 a month, and its 3-year plan a very affordable $2.99/month. These plans allow you to protect six devices at once.
Avast, on the other hand, charge a yearly subscription for a single device (and charge less if that’s a mobile device), or a discounted price for up to five devices:
- One computer (Mac or PC) $59.99/year
- One mobile device (Android or iOS) $19.99/year
- Up to five devices $79.99/year
Which service is cheaper? Well, that depends. Avast offers the cheapest VPN subscription for mobile devices I’m aware of, just $20 a year. Or if you have a single computer and pay just one year at a time, Avast will still be cheaper.
But if you have multiple devices, or pay for multiple years at once, Nord will win every time. And if you’re committed to using a VPN, that’s exactly what you want: an inexpensive plan you don’t need to keep paying for that covers all of your devices.
Winner: NordVPN. Unless you only intend to use the VPN on a single mobile device, Nord will be significantly cheaper for most users.
The Final Verdict
For those of you looking to use a VPN for the first time or prefer the easiest-to-use interface, you might want to consider Avast SecureLine. You’re probably not ready to make a multi-year commitment, and you can test the service on a single device quite inexpensively. In addition, you’ll become familiar with the basics of VPNs without the clutter of additional features, and Avast’s interface is about as easy as it gets. As long as you don’t watch Netflix.
For everyone else, I recommend NordVPN. If you’re committed to using a VPN, you won’t mind paying for a few years in advance to get one of the cheapest rates on the market—the second and third years are surprisingly inexpensive. The service offers the best Netflix connectivity of any VPN I tested (read the full review here), some very fast servers, more features, and superior security. I highly recommend it.
If you’re still not sure which to choose, try them both. Avast offers a free trial version, and Nord stands behind their service with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Evaluate each app, run your own speed tests, and try connecting to the streaming services most important to you. See for yourself which one best meets your needs.