What exactly is a VPN? Unless you have recently purchased a computer or smartphone, the chances are high that you’ve used or heard of them before. But in any case, the textbook definition of a VPN is a network that allows a computer to send information to another computer over the internet without revealing the source’s location and other private data, such as DNS. This results in the user having a connection on a public network that is completely private. Think of it as a commuter train entering a tunnel. Instead of sitting in your cabin with other passengers, you’ll be cozied up in your own individual car. This way, its much more difficult for servers to find out your real IP address, which allows outside sources to pinpoint your location. And if your location is known, then your identity can be easily found out.
VPNs use protocols to maintain a connection securely. The best known would probably be L2TP/IPSec and OpenVPN. Others may include SOCKS5 (popular for torrenting files), PPTP, and SSTP. They can sometimes be configured or run automatically when used for handling particular tasks, such as email or streaming movies. At other times, the VPN itself may rely on its own protocols. Some protocols are more secure than others as well, so it’s suggested that you don’t play with the advanced settings too much if you don’t know what you’re doing on your VPN. Get to know your provider first, learn the controls, then you can work your way into checking out what your service can do in detail.
About the Services
Avast VPN is a VPN service that was developed by Avast Software, a company that’s based in the Czech Republic and famous for producing great antivirus software. They’ve been in business since 1988, making the company much older than Nord. The VPN service is quite how, however. The full name of it is Avast SecureLine VPN and will quickly switch out a user’s location data to a multitude of servers housed remotely in various countries. They maintain centers that take in the traffic of their user base and send it off to the websites they wish to visit.
NordVPN began in 2012 and is based in Panama. Even though the company is quite new (even compared to other VPNs besides Avast), they have become a popular choice for consumers and are recommended by lots of professionals in the field of IT. A lot of it is simply due to their location, which is a long distance away from countries that have taken on a reputation for spying and surveillance. Nord doesn’t take an activist role in promoting anonymity but is often used by such people. Their servers are secure, fast, and easy to connect to in most instances. They compete with other leading brands in the field, including Avast.
Avast VPN – Something that you may quickly find out about high-end VPN services is how their security features are often very similar to each other. Yes, there are sometimes differences, but all will likely have some form of encryption and leak protection. Leaks are when a computer’s internet connection reverts back to sending information over the net using the original IP address. This can happen is there was no such protection, but VPNs maintain kill switch features which will block DNS and IP leaks from giving away your information. Avast also contains this and will swiftly shut off any applications that were online when the programs attempt to signal the server from which it previously had access to. There’s also encryption to which the company relies on 256-AES. That’s the staple which you’ll find on most VPNs, something that allows the program to have near military-like end-to-end protection through a cipher.
NordVPN – NordVPN is about the same as Avast in terms of basic security features, and also uses AES-256 but relies on OpenVPN as a protocol during connection to servers. Nord also offers more protocols than the former, having TCP/UDP as an addition. Nord’s kill switch can be turned on in its Settings. The DNS leak shield is also here and is guaranteed to stop any program from giving away too much of your into in the off-chance of a brief disconnection.
Avast VPN – Privacy is obviously one of the most important aspects to consider when searching for any VPN, whether it be free or paid. A poor VPN service could potentially open you up to more problems than what you would have had from simply going on the internet with your normal IP address. However, the same cannot be said for Avast. They won’t log any of your information, so you can rest easy knowing the service is trustworthy. But there is one major catch with this. As stated before, Avast servers are located in the Czech Republic, a country in Europe that’s well within the jurisdiction of the Fourteen Eyes, a colloquial term that describes western nations that exchange intel and diplomatic ties relating to mass surveillance. Avast is in such a region but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be avoided. Instead, it means that you should take more precautions to keep up with the latest news within such a location, or any info that could directly impact the VPN service.
NordVPN – NordVPN is the clear winner here, being that they are headquartered in Panama and far away from the superpowers known for mass surveillance. That’s not to say that things could potentially change in the future, however. Still, the Panamanian government stays out of the hair of tech companies, for the most part, affording them the ability to give their users true anonymity with little worry of getting compromised. If you value your privacy first and wish to make this a priority in your buying choice, Nord is a good VPN to place first on your list. And that’s even compared to other high-quality services that haven’t been mentioned along with Avast.
Regional and Remote Server Speeds
Avast VPN – Avast operates local servers that have consistently been rank well in most speed tests. In the US, their speeds average around 80 megabytes per second. This is for downloading. Outside of North America, speeds tend to hover around 65 Megabytes per second, but might clock in a little higher if you’re running a good internet connection on a decent computer. This places it at a fast rate that won’t create any annoying speed reductions when you’re doing something that requires it to perform well, such as watching YouTube.
NordVPN – NordVPN’s average download speed for local servers is about 80 megabytes per second, which sits slightly higher than Avast. If you’re not keen on speed tests, you’ll probably never notice a big difference in there when you to run on two different computers at the same time. In the UK, download speeds are almost cut in half, with the rate hitting about 49 megabytes per second. Uploads are a lot lower than this, but shouldn’t give you any problems if you need to send files that are large (at least most of the time). Nord again comes out on top for speed but isn’t exactly a huge leap from what Avast can do in this comparison.
The Number of Servers on Each VPN
Avast VPN – Avast has lots of servers available, but it’s not clear on the exact number. When searching online, 55 servers appears to come up the most, along with the 34 countries that have servers inside of them. That’s not a lot to brag about, and may result in some people going with Nord from this fact alone. The fewer servers there are, the greater the risk of someone being unable to use the service due to their location.
NordVPN Nord has about 4400 servers that are spread out in about 62 countries, much more than Avast. Still, not everyone needs to have too much available (in terms of server numbers and countries) in order to do what they need on a VPN. But if you would like to make an account that’s based somewhere where you need to have an IP to complete it, make sure that you go over the list before you purchase. Both VPN services will tell you the number if you visit their websites. Nord also has automatic configuration, so if you simply want to use one that’s closest to where you live, you may do so.
Avast VPN – Avast hits most of the big players when it comes to compatibility with operating systems. There’s an application for Windows, Mac OS-X, iOS, and Android devices. That’s a majority of the population that owns a computer or phone but might not suffice for those that use a Linux distro on their machine. There’s also no support for Chrome OS since that service is mostly based on Linux itself.
NordVPN – Nord is compatible with more operating systems than Avast, something that’s a little surprising seeing that the service is much younger than Avast as a company. You can place the VPN on a router, download on your favorite Linux distro, and find it on Apple’s App Store for iOS. Those are way more options than Avast, so Nord easily wins in this category. But if you don’t own any of the OS brands listed with Nord, then this shouldn’t apply to you or affect your purchasing choice.
Music and Video Streaming Performance
Avast VPN – Although Avast does allow music streaming with such sites as Hulu and Netflix, it’s likely that you may experience issues with the server. That’s due to the fact of there being only one server that’s provided for streaming. If the server goes down, you probably would have problems on the others when watching movies and shows online. This would probably happen very rarely but it would certainly be nicer to have more servers for streaming alone. Furthermore, the server location is in the United States, meaning that movies regionally-based in Europe, Asian, or elsewhere will remain inaccessible.
NordVPN – Nord again wins in this category, offering users up to four streaming servers to use. Countries include the US, France, Holland, and Canada. While it would be nice to have one in Asia, keep in mind that Nord is constantly updating their streaming IPs, so this is likely something that will happen soon. Nord knows that many customers want VPNs for this reason alone, and you’ll always have a backup just in case one of the other servers stops for some reason.
Pricing and Payment Options
Avast VPN – High-end VPNs tend to have pricing that doesn’t differ too greatly from one other, mostly so they’ll stay in competition with rivals. If prices do fluctuate, they are done so on an annual or bi-annual basis. Pricing typically takes the form on either monthly payments or longer. Some even have lifetime plans where you won’t have to pay again for the entirety that the VPN is used. Avast’s most expensive plan is $6.67. Subscribing with this one will see payments taken from your account monthly, but things do get cheaper if you can extend the payment period a bit if you keep the service on one single computer. For this, you’ll pay only $5.00 monthly. Additionally, there’s also plans made exclusive to smartphones that can go for up to one year without requiring another payment (this one is $19.99 per year).
NordVPN – Nord’s annual plan is about the same as Avast, $5.75 monthly on a yearly payment scale that totals $69.00. If you want cheaper, you can get the per-month option but you’ll pay a much higher fee, which is $11.95 for every month. This one isn’t recommended unless you don’t plan on using the VPN for long. If you want a plan that’s longer than a year, consider the two or three-year plans which are much cheaper in the long run. Three years is only $2.99 a month ($107.64) and two is $3.99 ($95.76).
How Many People Can Connect
Avast VPN – Avast isn’t the same as many other VPNs in the paid category. Others will generally offer a subscription that can be used on multiple devices (and connections) from the start. But here you’ll have to select either a plan that offers more than one person to connect or one that doesn’t. The total amount that you can bring online with it is five. One would think that more would be available since it’s provided with a particular subscription. Still, five is more than some and should work out fine for a small family that needs a simultaneous connection to a VPN.
NordVPN – Nord will allow you to connect six devices on one account at the same time, which is one higher than Avast. Unlike Avast, you won’t need to buy a separate plan just to have the feature. Just select the one that you see, whether it be on a smartphone or PC, and put everyone on the server. If you need even more connections you could always hook up the VPN address to a router. This would give you an unlimited supply of connections that can use the router. But for most people, six should be plenty.
Torrenting/Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Comparison
Avast VPN – Avast works well for sharing files on torrent clients and has several servers if different countries that will run such applications. You will also be able to access more websites to download torrent software. Some VPNs, including Avast, don’t outright endorse file sharing but visiting their forum online reveals that there are many users of the service that have no problems doing so. As such, getting the latest movies and music from your favorite client won’t be restricted at all.
NordVPN – NordVPN has more servers and country servers that are readily available for torrenting than Avast, but you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. However, since there are more server countries, some regions would have better access to downloading content from peer-to-peer apps without being blocked. Since some central and western Asian nations routinely do this, you would probably have greater success with torrent clients using Nord in those circumstances.
Rating Their Customer Support
Avast VPN – If you like good customer service that responds to inquiries quickly, then Avast is a better choice than Nord. They don’t have a live chat but can be contacted through support tickets, usually responding to questions within a day or less. If you’re the type that likes to get a human response, you can also contact them by phone. And if that weren’t enough, a huge forum exists on the website itself, which has both advanced and Avast associates at the ready to respond with useful information that can find a resolution to any problems with the VPN. Good customer service is something that people look for first in a company so this alone might be all you need to try out Avast.
NordVPN – NordVPN’s live chat feature is great, and you’ll generally be able to get a reply to issues in a very short timeframe. But the live chat may not work so well for very detailed technical problems that would be better off solving with over a phone call. And for that reason, Nord doesn’t do as well as Avast. Nord’s website lists no phone number for contact and has a very small and generic FAQ. If you do run into large issues when using the VPN, you might be better off going to separate forums to get a quick fix.
Main Pros and Cons
- Respects its users need for privacy and anonymity – Avast isn’t perfect but does a swell job at giving its user base the privacy that they want. Your information will stay in your hands, never being logged by third parties to use for malicious purposes. There’s nothing hidden here, and the company has been well received by security experts for their defenses against hacking and government intrusion.
- Easy to handle and install – Avast VPN won’t hog up too much space, no matter if you’re using a Windows-based computer or a smartphone. Downloading is painless, and you’ll be able to get it running just as fast as payment is complete. While you use it, feel free to run other software at the same time; the VPN won’t lag or use up too much of your computer’s processor.
- Completely unblocks torrent clients – Avast is great for file sharing and the proof is in their user experiences touted about on their forums. The program doesn’t cap the speeds of their servers and you’ll be free to download as much as possible with the servers you choose. No longer must you sit an wait for ages with lower quality VPNs to find metadata for magnet links. Just open your favorite torrent client and let the VPN do the rest.
- Plans are different than many of its rivals – While pricing is about the same as other VPNs, some of the plans and features provided with them sit in a stark contrast. You won’t be able to connect other devices to one account if you subscribe to a package that doesn’t allow it. And other plans can only be used on either a mobile or PC. If you do purchase such as option you’ll have to buy another plan, something that could make you pay more money and lose saving overtime.
- Not suitable for users that video stream – Since there’s only one server offered by Avast for video streaming, you probably won’t be able to use it on Netflix regularly. Streaming sites often won’t work for their ordinary servers and might even get your account blacklisted. If you only occasionally watch streaming content on a VPN or don’t like in a country where you would need a remote account, looking elsewhere is suggested.
- Located “off the grid” – Since NOrdVPN’s headquarters is in Panama, the servers you use with them are under the jurisdiction of a nation that has no recent controversies regarding mass surveillance. Things could always change in the future, but the nation isn’t likely to become a part of any data mining coalition anytime soon. It’s one less stress for you to worry about, particularly if you prioritize anonymity when looking for VPNs.
- Easily streams high definition movies and music – There are loads of servers for streaming content with Nord, you’ll always find working servers fast. You can also stream high-quality video, so long as you’re connection speed is decent. 4K and 2K quality content will play cleanly, showing no artifacts or buffering when processing over Nord’s servers.
- Leaks are a non-issue – Concerned about your programs leaking data to your IP? You won’t have to be with Nord. When connectivity goes down, Nord’s firewall comes to life, shutting down all incoming and outgoing web traffic that would risk you encountering problems with your local internet provider. This is true for all devices, no matter if you’re on a smartphone or laptop. Even if the program crashes, your other open applications will have their connections ceased until the VPN is up and running again.
- No trial period – For some, trial periods are a crucial part of getting a new VPN. They allow potential subscribers to see how the VPN function and whether or not it’s intuitive enough for them. Nord’s trial period isn’t exactly a trial. Users must make a payment in order to test it out, which offers a money back guarantee if they dislike the service. And once the period is over, you’ll have to your payment information in order to avoid getting charged again.
Summary/Which is the Best VPN?
Which VPN do you like better, Avast or Nord? They’re both well received by VPN and security professionals, having good protective features that’ll keep users safe from hacking attempts. But if one was left to choose a victor, the winner would be Nord due to the company’s superior video streaming servers and minimal risk of their customer’s data being compromised. You could settle with Avast though, and their servers are great for single individuals that don’t want to spend a small fortune to protect their computer or phone. Whichever service you go with, your online presence will be much more secure than using nothing at all.