Is Avira VPN safe?
Logging & Jurisdiction
Avira has a minimal loggig policy, which only collects anonymised performance data. It's not easy to find on the website, though.
Avira was founded in 2006, but its anti-virus software was developed back in 1986 by its predecessor, H+BEDV Datentechnik GmbH. Avira launched Avira Phantom VPN in 2016.
Avira’s headquarters are located in Tettnang, Germany. It also has offices in China, the Netherlands, Romania, and the US.
Germany isn’t the ideal jurisdiction for a VPN service. It falls under EU data retention laws and is also part of the 14 Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance. However, Avira Phantom’s very minimal logging policy means this isn’t too much of a concern.
In December 2020 NortonLifeLock, which operates Norton VPN (read our review), acquired Avira.
We eventually found it after some digging. The only information Avira Phantom collects is:
- Total amount of bandwidth consumed
- Amount of time a user is online
- Whether the account is Free or Premium
Avira Phantom VPN does not log or monitor your browsing activity, IP address, or the VPN server you connect to, meaning there’s no way of it tracking your online activity back to you.
You can also choose to send Avira your diagnostic data to help with product improvements, however this is totally optional and can be switched off in the settings menu of the VPN app.
Pretty quick on same-country connections
Speed & Reliability
Avira Phantom’s speeds have really improved in recent months, especially if you’re planning on connecting to a server in the same country as your physical location. However, Avira VPN is still struggling over longer distances. It's simply unable to compete with our fastest VPN services on connections from the UK to the US and Asia.
Despite some inconsistent results, Avira is still more than quick enough for most everyday users, even if you’re planning on using the VPN on multiple devices at the same time.
Local Speed Test results before using Avira Phantom VPN:
- Download Speed: 97.18Mbps
- Upload Speed: 99.3Mbps
- Ping: 2ms
Local Speed Test results with Avira Phantom VPN:
Download speed loss when Avira Phantom VPN is running: 25%
Avira VPN’s latency was surprisingly low, making it a solid choice for keen gamers – we recorded around 4ms latency connecting to its UK server (we test from London). Good same-country upload speeds mean it’s not too bad for torrenting either.
Avira isn’t the most reliable VPN service we’ve seen – we still experienced very few connection drops and speeds did vary more between tests.
Connecting out to various worldwide locations from the UK, these are the average speeds we experienced:
- USA: 19Mbps (download) & 32Mbps (upload)
- Germany: 64Mbps (download) & 33Mbps (upload)
- Singapore: 11Mbps (download) & 10Mbps (upload)
- Australia: 9Mbps (download) & 11Mbps (upload)
52 city locations over 38 countries
Avira has good server coverage for a VPN of it's size. It's servers are mostly concentrated in Europe and the US, though.
Avira VPN has a mid-sized server network covering 38 countries.
We were unable to find out exactly how many individual servers and IP addresses Avira maintains. We asked Avira for more information, but they refused to disclose any specific details. This likely means the overall number of servers and IP addresses is small, which can lead to slower speeds at busy times.
Avira VPN’s server coverage is best in Europe, which accounts for 24 of its total locations. There’s four server locations in Asia (Hong Kong, India, Japan, and Singapore), but only one in South America (Chile), and none at all in Africa.
The only two countries with city-level choice are Australia (Melbourne and Sydney) and the US. US-based users can choose from Avira Phantom servers in 12 different cities, including:
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- New York City
- San Francisco
- Washington DC
12 US cities is impressive considering Avira’s small server network. However, we would have traded this to see Avira Phantom Pro serve a wider range of countries.
Avira works with US Netflix on mobile only
Avira unlocks Netflix US on iOS and Android, but no other platforms. We havn't been able to get any other streaming services working through the service.
If you’re looking for quick, one-click access to major streaming services, Avira Phantom isn’t the right VPN for you.
The VPN service seems to only be capable of streaming the US Netflix library, and then only from iOS and Android devices (this works in the free mobile apps too). It’s a big one, and we’re glad that it can at least do that, but we want to see more.
Unfortunately Avira’s sole UK VPN server has never unblocked BBC iPlayer, either.
Good choice for torrenting
Avira allows P2P traffic on its network, and includes a must-have kill switch. It might not be the fastest VPN for torrenting but it will get the job done.
Avira Phantom VPN Pro is a decent choice for torrenting and P2P file sharing.
While Avira’s website confirms that its VPN can be used for torrenting, there’s no additional information about this.
Nevertheless, Avira’s minimal logging policy, decent same-country speeds, and its VPN kill switch are good features for anonymous P2P activity.
Avira has done well in our torrenting benchmark tests, too, but it isn’t the fastest available. For a faster and more secure file-sharing experience, use one of these VPNs for torrenting, instead.
Avira Free on the other hand is by far the fastest free VPN we’ve tested for torrenting, although it’s 1GB data cap will hold you back significantly.
Won’t work in China or Turkey
We've not been able to get Avira Phantom working from our Shanghai server, and have no reason to beleive it will work in other highly censored regions.
Avira Phantom VPN doesn’t work in China and in most other highly-censored countries.
The service doesn’t have any obfuscation tools to hide your VPN connection. Also, the apps use the OpenVPN protocol, which is very easy for censors to detect and block.
Secure VPN but lacks advanced settings
Security & Features
Avira lacks some advanced features, but it's AES-256 encryption is sound and all its VPN protocols are industry standard.
Although Avira Phantom doesn’t have as many advanced privacy settings as other top-tier services, it will keep you safe online.
All the native VPN software runs on OpenVPN, the most secure connection protocol, apart from the iOS app, which uses IKEv2. Encryption is ensured via the ‘unhackable’ cipher AES-256.
The VPN kill switch is a very useful feature, as it protects your IP address in the event of a sudden VPN connection drop.
The VPN service also operates its own DNS servers rather than renting them from third parties, and protects you against DNS leaks, too.
If you still want more advanced settings to play with, head over to our IPVanish VPN review.
Works with major platforms, but not routers
Platforms & Devices
Avira Phantom has apps for major platforms (Android, iOS, Mac and PC), but won’t work with Linux or routers.
Avira Phantom provides the usual range of custom VPN apps for various devices, including Windows, macOS, iOS and Android.
Unlike many other VPN services, Avira isn’t compatible with any routers, meaning you have to download the VPN software onto each of your devices.
At least, Avira allows you to use the VPN on an unlimited number of devices at the same time.
No Firestick App and No Smart DNS
Avira VPN doesn’t offer any dedicated app for Fire TV devices.
It also doesn’t have a Smart DNS solution. Combined with the lack of router support, this means you can’t easily use Avira VPN on devices that don’t support native VPN apps.
Avira Phantom has recently introduced a browser extension for Google Chrome.
Unlike the proxy extensions many other VPN services provide, this is a true VPN extension that uses the same level of encryption (AES-256) as the desktop client.
It’s great for masking your IP address but it’s not a complete substitute for the desktop VPN app, as it only secures your browser connections.
There is no Firefox add-on, sadly. If you’re a Firefox user, consider using one of these recommended VPN addons, instead.
Cluttered apps with some usability flaws
Ease of Use
Avira's apps are pretty good, but are let down by the total lack of additional features or customization
How to Install & Set Up Avira Phantom VPN
Avira Phantom is a very simple one-button VPN that’s almost identical on both desktop and mobile. Avira’s main screen only displays an on/off button and your current virtual location – we would like to see some more connection information here.
Avira really falls down when it comes to advanced features – or rather its lack of them.
Aside from a VPN kill switch and the option to automatically secure untrusted WiFi networks, there are no advanced settings at all, putting Avira well behind its rivals in terms of configurable options.
The Avira Phantom apps also lack any protocol options, and even fails to inform you what protocol you are using. If we didn’t know that Phantom was based on OpenVPN, which Avira confirmed to us, we wouldn’t feel very confident in its security.
If you’re looking for a VPN with uncluttered and accessible software, Avira is a great choice. However if you like having lots of advanced features to choose from, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
24/7 live chat makes up for limited resources
Avira's chatbot isn't much help but it's email support has always been quick and professional. It also offers online FAQs for free customers.
Sadly, Avira Phantom limits personalized customer support to paying users only, meaning free users or potential customers won’t be able to take advantage.
Thankfully email responses were quick and professional, although clearly it’s company policy not to reveal too many details about Avira’s VPN server network.
The knowledge base on Avira’s website is pretty limited, with the main feature being a list of a few simple FAQs.
However we have to admit that when a product is this simple, there’s a limit to the amount of resources that can be created.
The company has recently introduced a handful of video tutorials to the site, which are very helpful and informative.
The ‘chat bot’ is another recent addition by Avira, but all it ever seemed to do was redirect us to the FAQs or prompt us to leave a message for the customer support team.
The longest plan is decent value
Price & Value
Avira Phantom has a simple set of subscription options, on either a one or twelve month contract. Of course, you can get the VPN bundled in with Avira's other security products, too, if you want.
Avira Phantom offers three different pricing plans. They all offer the same features, but the longer you sign up for, the less you pay each month.
A single month is the most expensive option at $10 and is reduced by 35% to a reasonable $6.50 if you commit to a 12-month plan. That will cost you $78.00 upfront.
Additionally, you can opt for a mobile-only plan, which costs $5.99 per month, but you’ll be limited to VPN access only on your smartphone.
Avira Phantom Free
There’s also a free version of Avira Phantom available.
It offers a good service for privacy oriented users who don’t use too much data. Because of this it holds a place in our top five free VPN services.
Payment & refund options
Avira offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for those who aren’t satisfied with their purchase, or 14 days for monthly subscribers. This is a genuine ‘no questions asked’ guarantee with no restrictions or fair usage policies, simply contact cleverbridge (Avira’s billing partner) and it will process your refund.
If you don’t want to commit to a paid plan right away, Avira Phantom also offers a free trial that you can use for as long as you like. This does give you an idea of what Avira is like, but you are limited to a monthly data limit of 500MB and miss out on some key privacy features.
We love that you don’t have to provide any personal details to access the free service, however Avira offers to double your monthly data allowance if you provide your email address.
Avira Phantom doesn’t offer a very large range of payment options, particularly in comparison to top-tier VPN providers. It does accept most major credit and debit cards, as well as PayPal, but there is no option to pay using cryptocurrencies or international methods.
Much better VPNs are available
The Bottom Line
It’s difficult to recommend Avira VPN when there are much better VPN services available.
It certainly beats out most other “antivirus VPNs”, but that’s more or less all it has going for it.
Its speeds are only ‘ok’ and it won’t unblock niche Netflix libraries or BBC iPlayer. It also won’t work in high censorship nations like China or Turkey.
Overall, Avira VPN is an ok VPN, built for beginners keen to protect their online privacy. It is also a decent choice for torrenting.
But, it’s certainly not a good VPN for streaming, though, and it’s more expensive than we would expect for a VPN with its limitations.
Alternatives to Avira Phantom VPN
Private Internet Access
PIA VPN is an extremely fast VPN. If speed is important to you, then this VPN is for you. It's cheaper than Avira, but it works with Netflix and BBC iPlayer, and it's one of the best VPNs for torrenting. Read Private Internet Access review
NordVPN is also a very good alternative to Avira VPN. It's one of the best VPNs for streaming, with access to Netflix and Disney+. It allows torrenting on most servers, and it generally bypasses the strictest of web blocks. Read NordVPN review