VPNs or Virtual Private Networks act as a decoy to give you privacy and protection when surfing the web. VPNs guard you by creating an extra layer that hides your IP address and provides encryption to keep hackers away from your account information.
Avira Phantom VPN is a natural progression of online protection from the creators of AntiVir, a pioneering antivirus program created in 1988. With over 30 years of fighting viruses and keeping online citizens from hackers and those who would seek to get their hands on your data, it’s clear the makers of Avira Phantom VPN are not newcomers to the game and know what they’re doing.
How Does Avira Phantom VPN Work
Avira Phantom VPN has two different products that you can use. They have a free version of Phantom VPN which caps your data volume at 500 megabytes per month or the paid version called Phantom VPN Pro which allows unlimited data. Besides the data cap, both packages offer the same features with a few exceptions.
Both versions of the Avira Phantom VPN:
However, Pro offers tech support where the free version does not, and the Pro version has a kill switch which disables access to the internet if the connection to the VPN should drop while you’re using it to prevent from leaving you exposed.
You can use Avira Phantom VPN on a desktop PC that runs Windows, on a Mac, on Android, and iOS so you can use it on your computers, laptops, tablets, and cell phones. You need to have the following versions running for each platform:
If Chrome is your preferred browser, you can also download a plugin to install the VPN directly to Chrome.
The User Experience
Once you download Avira Phantom VPN from their website, install, and run the file, their user-friendly interface pops up when you open the program. You click the button that says “Secure My Connection” and the VPN protection kicks in.
If you’re using the free version, a counter on the interface lets you know how much data you’ve used up of the 500 megabytes they give you for the month. For the Pro version, the counter is replaced by the reading “unlimited.”
Using either version of Avira Phantom VPN should not significantly affect your internet speed. It might slow down a bit to allow for encryption, but it shouldn’t interfere with your online activities, so you should be able to maintain nearly the same internet speed you had before you downloaded the VPN.
Also, if you choose to connect to one of the servers located in another country, the distance to the country where the server is could also affect connection times. To avoid a loss of internet speed, you can select the “fastest connection” option which automatically selects the best connection to where you may be currently located.
Installing and using Avira Phantom VPN on your mobile devices can help to protect you by encrypting your communications when you’re accessing public Wi-Fi. Hackers that could be lurking on the same network can’t access your financial information, passwords, and other private files that they might otherwise be able to obtain.
By spoofing your IP address from your internet service provider with the Avira Phantom VPN, the ISP can’t monitor your internet usage and possibly throttle or slow down your service if it doesn’t like the web pages that you choose to visit.
Also, advertisers can’t collect your actual information because they see an anonymous user whose location constantly changes so no more annoying ads for a webpage you briefly visited the day before.
Avira Phantom VPN has servers distributed among 38 global locations so that you can access websites that might be blocked off to you due to the geographic location of your IP address.
For example, say there’s a show from Spain that you’d like to watch, but can’t because you’re blocked from accessing the television network’s website from the United States.
With the VPN, you can switch your location to Spain by clicking on the Avira Phantom VPN interface where it’s labeled “virtual location.” Avira then connects you to a server in Spain, giving you a local IP address, so that it appears that you are a local and gain access to the Spanish site.
Both the free and Pro version of Avira Phantom VPN do not log or monitor which websites you see, so your web activity is yours alone, and they use AES 256-bit encryption, the worldwide standard, to keep your data protected. The number 256 is related to the key size, so it makes it substantially difficult for anyone to try to crack the combination possibilities of 256 different keys.
Avira’s commitment to protecting the privacy of their users extends to the government even though they have to abide by the laws of the countries where they operate.
Since they don’t track your actual IP address or the substitute IP addresses you used while using the VPN, keep logs of what websites you visited or files you downloaded, they can’t share that information with authorities because they don’t have it.
However, that doesn’t mean that Avira doesn’t log anything. On their website’s Frequently Asked Questions section, they do disclose that they track:
Also, the providers of the servers may keep metadata, but the data is not tracked back to or associated with individual users.
Avira has a very thorough customer support page that was created so that you can help yourself with a multitude of different issues without having to involve customer service.
You can browse through common issues or questions other users have searched for like downloading and installation questions, configuration queries, or technical issues like the meaning behind specific error codes you might encounter.
Their help page has a link you can select if you need to have the license you purchased resent to you, free downloads that include antivirus programs and software to help optimize your computer.
The support page also contains tutorial videos that you can watch for how-tos and walk-throughs on things like installing the product, logging in, and account features. There’s a Virus Lab section where you can find out about the latest malware and viruses out there, as well as the latest product news, and any tweets that Avira has sent out from their Twitter account.
However, if none of these options has helped you solve your problem or answered your question, you can click “Get in touch” at the bottom of the customer support page. The link will take you to a form to email customer service detailing your question or issue and lets you provide your contact information, including your phone number so that they can respond.
Once you submit the form to customer service, you get a message saying that you’ll receive a response as soon as possible, but you don’t get a time frame for how long they will take to get back to you. There is no phone number to speak with a live agent or the option to have a live chat which could be an issue if you need assistance at that moment.
Cost, Free Trials, And Payment Methods
The Avira Phantom VPN free version doesn’t cost anything but is capped at 500 megabytes a month. However, if you register with Avira, they will increase your data limit on the free version to one gigabyte a month.
For the Avira Phantom VPN Pro version, there are three different options you can choose from:
For the month-to-month plans, you can cancel at any time. If you don’t cancel, the plans will automatically renew when the month is up, so you don’t have to keep track of the date to keep renewing. For the annual subscription, although it breaks down to $5.62, you are billed annually, so you’ll be charged the full price of a year’s subscription up front.
If you decide to purchase one of Avira Phantom VPN’s plans, you can pay with either a credit card, debit card, or PayPal. They do not accept cryptocurrencies.
How Avira Compares To The Competition
There are lots of VPN service providers out there, and some of them might have a more robust selection of servers thaPreviewt could expand the content that’s available to you, so that could be a factor that could keep you from signing up with Avira.
For example, NordVPN, which is featured and mentioned by many publications and news networks like BBC, The Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed, has a network of over 5,000 servers around the globe. You can select a server from anywhere in its list of 62 countries, so that’s almost double the number of countries where Avira Phantom VPN has servers.
Another VPN provider, ExpressVPN has more than 1,000 servers in over 90 countries, almost tripling the countries available under Avira.
NordVPN and ExpressVPN could almost certainly provide you with access to websites and streaming services that Avira can’t reach. Also, having so many servers means that the servers shouldn’t get overloaded as could be the case when there are only a few servers, so the connection speeds and streaming speeds should be faster.
Another advantage of ExpressVPN is that you can use it on more platforms besides Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. ExpressVPN can protect you when you’re online using gaming consoles like PS4 and Xbox 360 as well as smart TVs, routers, and Linux.
You can use NordVPN on the same platforms as Avira Phantom VPN, but besides Chrome, you can also use it with the Firefox browser. You can also install NordVPN on Linux or on your router which will protect all the devices on your network. NordVPN has an app tailored for router usage that lets you control your router’s connection to the VPN from your cell phone or desktop.
At this time, Avira Phantom VPN can’t be installed on your router to provide coverage for your whole house.
ExpressVPN also offers split tunneling which lets you select which apps on your phone or desktop use the VPN so that you can decide which traffic to protect and what you want to keep connected to local networks. In other words, you can access global and local internet options simultaneously.
Also, NordVPN and ExpressVPN support torrenting or peer-to-peer file sharing with dedicated servers optimized for that specific purpose, but Avira Phantom VPN makes no mention of allowing it or if their servers can support it.
NordVPN has a security feature called CyberSec that you can enable to block ads, including video ads that sometimes automatically plays when you access a website. Preventing these video ads from playing can help the page to load faster to get you to the content you actually want to see.
NordVPN prevents botnets from controlling your device and scans sites that may have malware or spyware and blocks them to keep your web browsing safe and to protect your devices. Avira sells separate products that offer these security features, but they don’t come with the Phantom VPN.
NordVPN also uses double VPN to encrypt your online activities twice, passing it through two servers, so it could be the better choice for you if security and anonymity is a top priority.
If you require customer service with ExpressVPN, they have troubleshooting guides designed to help you help yourself, or you can start a live chat and connect with a person right away. With NordVPN, you can visit their website’s help center, send an email, or initiate a live chat so you can receive real-time assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Unfortunately, Avira Phantom VPN does not offer live customer support.
However, NordVPN limits you to using six devices simultaneously and ExpressVPN limits usage to three devices. Avira Phantom VPN, both the free and Pro version have no limits so that you can use it on as many devices as can run the service with one license.
Also, NordVPN costs about $12 a month, and ExpressVPN is priced at around $13 a month, so both services are more expensive than Avira Phantom’s monthly plan. With ExpressVPN, you can pay by credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, and other methods like Alipay, WebMoney, and Klarna. NordVPN accepts credit cards, cryptocurrencies, and other payment methods.
Neither NordVPN or ExpressVPN have a free version or a trial period so that you can try before you buy, but they do both do offer a 30-day money back guarantee.
What We Think
If you’re a gamer, or have smart TVs, or think you’d enjoy the option of using a VPN with your router to get coverage on every device in your home, then Avira Phantom VPN is probably not the right option for you because you can’t use it on those items.
Also, if security and privacy is your utmost concern and you want a guarantee that absolutely no one can access your internet or web activity, then you’ll probably want to select a VPN provider that is not in one of the 14 Eyes countries which participate in government surveillance and monitoring of user activity.
NordVPN operates out of Panama, which is not part of the 14 Eyes alliance and doesn’t enforce logging of user data.
ExpressVPN operates out of the British Virgin Islands which doesn’t have data retention laws so ExpressVPN only retains basic user information about VPN usage that would not be useful in any investigation.
Avira PhantomVPN operates out of Germany, which is one of the 14 Eyes countries, so that might give you pause or raise some alarms about whether Avira can hold up its promise that your data is completely private.
If you’re interested in a basic and beginner VPN, Avira Phantom VPN could serve you well depending on what platforms you use. If you’re looking for a VPN to use on your Android or Apple cell phone, your pc or laptop, and your international interests are limited to the United States, United Kingdom, and western Europe, then Avira is a solid choice.
Avira Phantom VPN is budget-friendly, user-friendly, easy to install, and easy to use.