Avira Review 2019

BEST FOR: Total security for travelers

  • No logs
  • Simple enough for novice users
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with Netflix
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Avira Overview

Joel Timothy

Last updated: 12 April 2019

Avira is a well-known name in the computer security field, and they now have a VPN. Avira Phantom VPN was designed as a complement to the company’s antivirus software that are meant to enhance a user’s online experience.

Avira Phantom VPN may not be able to compete with some of the most established VPNs providers, but it provides a good starting point for the first-time and home VPN user. There’s a Total Security Suite that lets you utilize the power of a number of Avira online security products, but in this Avira Phantom VPN review, we will focus more on the Avira Phantom VPN and see how it compares to other VPNs in the industry.

Pros

What we liked

  • Easy to use
  • 30-day premium free trial
  • Domain Name System (DNS) leak protection
  • Zero logs
  • Works with Netflix

Cons

What can be improved

  • Very few locations
  • Based in the US/ Germany
  • Limited features
  • Bitcoin payment not supported

Security & Privacy

Privacy

When judging a VPN’s privacy, we must always check their log policies with a keen eye. While doing this Avira Phantom VPN review, we found Avira to be quite transparent in terms of logs.

Avira states that they keep no logs, and do not track the following:

  • The websites you visit
  • The virtual locations (IP addresses) you used while surfing
  • Your real IP address
  • Any information that can link you to any action, such as downloading a file, or visiting a particular website.”

It’s good to see that Avira does not track this information. This means that it would be hard to identify a particular user or even know what they were doing online. This is the type of privacy to look for with a VPN.

Now let’s now see what records Avira does keeps:

  • Diagnostic data, which helps us improve the product (e.g., if bugs were encountered). The tracking of this data is entirely optional: you can easily switch it off from within the product interface.
  • Whether you are a free or a paid user. It’s important for our communications to be able to differentiate the two.
  • The amount of data that you consume. We do this to help calculate the costs of providing our VPN infrastructure – free of charge.

This is quite a good policy. The data that Avira keeps is reasonable and can’t be used against you. We can, therefore, say that Avira Phantom VPN values your privacy.

However, things get quite complicated when you go for Avira Prime, the Total Security Suite that includes the other Avira security programs. The overall Avira Privacy Policy has some statements that compromise this package.

“This information may include something called personally identifiable information (“PII”). Some examples of PII are your name, address, phone number, email address and credit card information. Some of the information we use about your Device includes its identification number, IP address, location, contents, language settings and IMEI code. We may also use the Device brand, model, battery level, hardware model, operating system version, telephone number, SIM number, network provider and memory status. Finally, we may use some geographical information based on the GPS/Wi-Fi network position.”

This is Avira’s general policy, and it applies if you use the suite with other Avira products. Such a policy shows just how much you will be risking if you leave all your security tasks to one company. For this reason, we would not recommend the Total Security Suite to any privacy-minded user. However, if you only want to subscribe to the Phantom VPN, Avira’s privacy policy is quite attractive.

The Avira VPN jurisdiction of incorporation is not as straightforward as you might have seen with almost all other VPNs. The company divides its users into two groups:

  • United States and Canada Users
  • Users outside the US and Canada

To quote Avira, “If you live in the United States or Canada, Avira means Avira, Inc., 330 Primrose Avenue, Suite 610, Burlingame, CA 94010, USA. If you live somewhere else, Avira means Avira Operations GmbH & Co. KG, Kaplaneiweg 1, 88069 Tettnang, Germany.”

US & Canada Users

For the users in the US and Canada, Avira Phantom VPN is incorporated in the United States. We all know the US as one of the trickiest locations to operate a VPN. This is because of the country’s strict data retention laws. VPNs incorporated there can’t really promise you zero logs, as federal law requires VPNs to keep logs.

Non-US & Canada Users

For users not based in the US and Canada, Avira Phantom VPN is based in Germany. This may not be the best location in terms of data protection, but it is far better than the US. Germany’s data retention laws are not as strict as those in the US and other jurisdictions like the UK. In Germany, data collected by ISPs is only kept for 10 weeks. To protect digital privacy, this data is only accessible on a case-by-case basis.

Security

Avira Phantom VPN offers good security in that it uses the AES 256-bit encryption between your device and their servers. This is a military-grade encryption, and it is virtually impenetrable.

The VPN also uses the RSA-2048 data authentication with a SHA-512 handshake. Added to this is Perfect Forward Secrecy that is implemented using the Diffie–Hellman key exchange (DHE).

  • L2TP/IPSec
  • OpenVPN

Unfortunately, Avira does not offer flexibility with the security protocols they provide. The Windows and Android clients only use OpenVPN. The protocol itself is the best industry VPN because it offers excellent security and speed balance. However, we would still love to have the option to use a lighter protocol especially when f legal video and content streaming are a high usage priority.

The Mac and iOS client includes Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)/Internet Protocol Security (IPsec).

Generally, Avira Phantom VPN’s security is reliable and can’t be easily compromised. To boost your security and privacy, the VPN also has IP Leak Protection and an automatic Kill Switch.

Pricing & Payment

Avira offers various plans for their Phantom VPN. You can purchase any of the following:

  • The monthly plan, which goes for $8.00 per month
  • The yearly plan that goes for $62.00 charged annually. This is $5.20/month.
  • The mobile only plan (Android & iOS) costs $4.99/month

Based on industry averages, we found Avira Phantom VPN Pro to be fairly priced. With Avira’s monthly plan, you can cancel anytime. The 3 plans provided offer unlimited bandwidth. We mention this because Avira has a free plan with limited bandwidth (500 Mb for unregistered users, and 1 GB for registered users). Therefore, it makes sense to consider a paid plan in order to meet daily needs, which generally will exceed the free amounts.

Monthly

$8.00

Per month

Cancel anytime

5 devices

most popular
1 Year

Unlimited devices

Save
35%

$8.00

$5.20

Per month

One time payment of $94.00

30-day money-back guarantee

$.

Per month

*Although we make every effort to ensure all prices are accurate, we cannot guarantee thet they are always up to date

Our favorite of the three here is the mobile plan, something that you don’t get with many VPNs. We love this plan specifically because it makes sense for WiFi public hotspot, which most people normally connect to using a mobile device such as a phone or tablet. Going for only $4.99, this plan is a great option for users who are often on-the-go. Though you can only use it with one device, this plan lets you secure your mobile device whenever you connect to private WiFi or a public hotspot.

If you want coverage for many devices or your whole family, then you can go for either the monthly or yearly plan which allows you to connect unlimited devices.

Avira Prime

In addition to the Phantom VPN, Avira offers a total security suite which is a bundle comprised of:

  • Antivirus Pro (for Windows and Mac)
  • System Speedup Pro (for Windows only)
  • Phantom VPN Pro (Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS)
  • Password Manager
  • Browser tracking blocker
  • Full version tune-up tools
  • All Avira premium mobile apps

The Total Security Suite is meant to be a solution for all your smartphone and computer security needs, and it’s now been made cross-platform (previously for Windows users). We like this bundle  because, as the website suggests, the “Avira Prime offers advanced protection technologies (e.g., cloud-based AI) that proactively secure you against malware attacks designed to steal your identity and personal data at the web browser level – before they can even reach your PC.”

 

Free Trial

Avira used to provide free trials for both the VPN and the total security suite, but these are no longer available. To try out the VPN, you need to subscribe with the 30-day money-back guarantee.

 

Payment Methods

Avira only allows you to pay via two methods: PayPal and credit card.

It’s unfortunate that they are not flexible enough to offer other payment methods, or at least support anonymous payment tools such as the ultra secure and anonymous bitcoin.

Credit cards
Payment Service

Performance

The Avira VPN clients function pretty well, and we didn’t really have any issues while using them. However, it should be noted that when you disconnect your VPN connection manually, the Kill Switch doesn’t work. It only appears to work with automatic disconnections.

Speed test

To know how fast Avira Phantom VPN is, we tested the service using the Ookla speed test. Below is our initial speed without a VPN.

Avira

We then connected Phantom VPN to a server near us. Here are the speed test results.

Avira

You can see that our speed significantly reduced. Finally, we connected the VPN to a server far away.

Avira

Generally, these are pretty average speeds, and Avira Phanton is not one of the fastest VPNs

This speed test was recently conducted on April 17, 2019

Servers & Location

Avira Phantom VPN can’t really compare to other top VPNs in terms of number of servers. They only offer a total of 38 servers in 27 countries and 38 locations. The only country that has more than one location/ server is the US, with a total of 12 servers.

Features

Avira VPN isn’t the VPN to give you a wide array of features, and this confirms that the VPN was only created to add an extra layer of security for an audience seeking simplicity. The VPN only offers 3 features: DNS Leak Protection, a kill switch, and WiFi auto connect.

DNS Leak Protection

This is a very useful feature in protecting a user’s privacy. The purpose of the feature is to prevent the VPN from leaking any DNS requests. When leaked, these requests go back to the ISP, which can then be used to identify a certain user.

Kill Switch

If for some reason your VPN connection drops, your ISP can see your details and whatever you are doing online at that particular time. A kill switch prevents this from happening by closing down all internet connections till your VPN connection is re-established.

Avira Phantom VPN lacks other advanced features like SmartDNS and split tunneling. It  also don’t have a .onion web address to connect you to the Deep Web.

Features
Smart DNS
Bypass Netflix
Onion Tow Web Address
Split Tunneling
Stealth Technology/Servers
Allow Torrenting
Automatic Kill Switch
ipv6
Open Ports

Avira Setup & User Interface

The Avira website is sleek as always. To access the VPN section, you will need to do some navigation:

The VPN section doesn’t provide many details about the product, especially the technical details like encryption and protocols used.  The only option we are given on the top page is to download the free VPN. To see their pricing and get to sign up, you will need to scroll down.

To sign up, you will be required to provide an email address, your name, and your postal code. For the postal code, you can use any one, and it will work. In addition, you’ll need to include your payment details for either PayPal or credit/debit card.

After the sign up is complete, you will then get a confirmation mail. The link in the email will allow you to create a password, and you will be logged in to the website. From here you can download the clients you need.

Sign up with Avira Phantom VPN takes less than 2 minutes. It is impressive how the clients just log in automatically, so you won’t need to sign in.

The Windows Client

Installing the Windows client will trigger a default attempt at getting you to install the other Avira products, but you can easily cancel the processes and only install the VPN. You can then decide whether you need to install any other product.

To launch your VPN, just click Open.

Interface

Avira Phantom clients are simple and straightforward.

The client gives you an auto-connect option that automatically identifies the best server for you, depending on your location.

You can also easily change your location by clicking the name of your virtual location.

Customization Options

Avira Phantom VPN doesn’t offer much in terms of client customization. There are only three options that you can play with here, which are discussed below.

The Kill Switch

Avira’s kill switch can be turned on in the Settings section. We found a few problems with its functionality , as our internet was still available when changing servers.

The only other option you have is launching the VPN at System Startup and choosing to auto-secure the WiFi networks.

The Smartphone Client

The Avira Phantom client is just as simple as the desktop client. Once you open it, establishing a secure VPN connection is just a single tap away.

Changing servers is easy, and you just need to open the Menu button on the top left side.

The Avira Phantom Android client, however, doesn’t offer you many customization options. In fact, the smartphone client doesn’t have the kill switch feature. All you can do with Settings is auto-secure WiFi connections.

Compatibility

While doing this Avira VPN Review, we also tested its ability to work with various streaming channels.

Netflix

To test whether Avira Phantom is a good solution for a Netflix library, we first tried searching for a US Netflix show from abroad, The Walking Dead. Surprisingly, Avira Phanton was able to stream from Netflix

The VPN is however blocked by BBC iPlayer.

Avira Phantom VPN compatibility is somewhat limited when compared to other top VPN providers’ options. The VPN supports devices based on the most basic platforms:

  • Windows (Win 7 or higher)
  • MacOS
  • Android
  • iOS and most recently
  • Chrome

These are the basic platforms, but at minimum, Linux should be among them. Phantom VPN also doesn’t give you the option of configuring the VPN manually on another device like a router.

Devices

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows
  • Mac

Browsers

  • Chrome

Others

Customer support

Customer support is not one of Avira Phantom VPN’s strong points. They do not provide live chat support, and personal VPN support is only available to users who have paid for subscriptions.

Free product users can only use the FAQ section that we didn’t find to be too detailed. If you are a paid user, you can get support through either phone or email.

The support is available in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

Conclusion

Avira Phantom VPN provides users with one of the best free VPN services especially for light users (Limited to 1 GB) who would like to use a VPN for minimal browsing and securing their emails. However, the Phantom Pro VPN lacks advanced features for power users, limiting itself to only users who would just like to secure their data, protect their privacy, and access a streaming services. Also quite worrying is the all-inclusive privacy policy that collects a lot of information for the Prime Suite users. Streaming fans are also obviously not well catered for, not being able to access Netflix or iPlayer. Its 2 click to connect to server will certainly appeal to many, but overall we have to conclude by saying that there’s better VPN options than Avira.

Written by: Joel Timothy

Joel is a tech writer and editor with a special interest in cyber security and internet freedom. He likes helping readers tackle tricky tech and internet issues, as well as maximize the boundless power of the internet.

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