- Simple, straightforward interface
- Powerful, customizable scans
- Effective background protection
- Various useful additional features
- Supports multiple devices and platforms
- Lack of important security features
- No scheduling for default scans
- Expensive upgrades
There aren’t many software developers as widespread as Avast, but despite the various different avenues that it has branched out into since its founding in 1988, the company is still better known for Free Antivirus, the software that many users consider to be a lifesaver. Although Avast’s free antivirus has been through many changes, deep down it has always remained a simple and straightforward solution. It includes several ways to scan the computer, from the convenient Smart Scan and ability to manually refine the scans for personal preference, to the active shields that run in the background. However, what makes Avast a must-have is that its antivirus features are just a part of the full equation: the software’s free version is equipped with extra solutions on top of the antivirus like a password manager or software updater, but it can also be upgraded with various other functions that, as a result, turn PCs, Macs, and even phones into impenetrable fortresses against wrongdoers.
Avast software is known for being intuitive and easy to use, and its antivirus solution clearly showcases that. For starters, immediately after installing Avast – which is a breeze to do – it starts monitoring for suspicious activity in the background. In fact, with the exception of requiring confirmation that files proposed to send to quarantine are harmful, interacting with Avast’s interface isn’t necessary, because the four core shield features – which includes automated file scanning, blocking harmful email attachments, web monitoring, and the behavior shield – ensure continuous protection for the device that the antivirus is used on.
If it does become necessary to make use of Avast’s on-demand features, then finding them won’t take too much time. The default antivirus scanning option is featured on the start screen with everything else categorized logically for quick access, meaning users can find core and additional functions with ease. Even though each feature is self-explanatory, the software also comes with a built-in help guide that explains everything in great detail. This could be especially useful when tailoring the standard scans to your own needs, since this is the only part in the settings that may take longer to study and understand than normal.
Since any one of the five scanning options uses the same virus database – which is automatically updated on a regular basis to fight existing, new, and evolving threats – it doesn’t matter which is chosen, since any issues are certain to be detected and dealt with in effectively. However, there are still a few differences between scans.
By far the most convenient option is Smart Scan, the complete scanning function that rids the computer various issues like viruses, malicious browser extensions, faulty network settings, outdated software, weak passwords, and unsatisfactory PC performance. Despite simultaneously performing complex tasks, Smart Scan only requires minutes to complete, and it doesn’t slow the computer down that much either. However, Smart Scan isn’t as perfect as it might seem, because when it comes to boosting the PC’s performance – which should be done automatically – it won’t proceed until paying for Avast Cleanup Premium first.
Although Smart Scan is strong enough on its own, the other scanning options provide more thorough searches. In this regard, users can opt to perform a deep scan, create a rescue disk for scanning without booting up the system, have Avast examine the system when it starts up, or to look for potential threats in specific folders. These scanning options may not do as much as Smart Scan, but they can at least be customized in the settings to satisfy specific user requirements. There is also the option to create custom scans that, unlike the default options, can be scheduled to be initiate automatically at predetermined intervals.
Avast Antivirus is more than just a simple antivirus, and is instead a multifaceted tool. However, this is only true for those users that decide to purchase one of the paid Avast products, as many additional features are blocked. Granted, tools like the cleanup solution, the driver updater, the data shredder, or the VPN can all be substituted by equally competent third-party tools, but certain features like the reinforced firewall, Sandbox – which is a virtual safe space for opening suspicious files – or the ransomware protection for particularly important files and folders will definitely be missed by those not paying.
That doesn’t mean that Avast Free Antivirus doesn’t provide any extended protection, though. For instance, users can still check the vulnerability of their Wi-Fi’s settings and take the necessary precautions either manually or with the aid of Avast SecureLine VPN, so long as an active subscription is available. There is also the option to update installed apps through the software without the need to open them, so long as they are supported – although free users are required to perform this task manually. Avast also comes with a secure browser, but note that unlike many of the aforementioned features this is a separate program independent from the antivirus.
However, by far the most interesting feature available to all Avast users for free is the built-in password manager. Even if it is pretty basic compared to other similar solutions, its usefulness is unquestionable. In fact, not only does it possess all the features typically associated with this kind of tool – such as the military-grade encryption of your most sensitive data – but unlike the majority of free password managers it also supports cloud syncing to provide convenience for multidevice users.
One of the main advantages of Avast’s free antivirus is that it can be enjoyed on multiple devices at the same time. There is no need to create an Avast account, either, though having one does have major advantages in that this is the only way to track which devices Avast is registered on and that it provides a hassle-free way of syncing all the content of the built-in password manager.
It’s important to note that while Avast runs on all platforms – with the exception of iOS –neither the Mac nor the Android versions are as advanced as the Windows app. There are many ways in which these tools are superior, however, for instance the Mac version supports scheduled scanning and actually measures how long a scan takes, whereas the Android app comes with its own bespoke anti-theft feature, a junk data cleaner, and RAM booster built-in.
Like many of its competitors, Avast’s free antivirus provides many of the most crucial features expected from such a solution. Yet with that said, Avast limits crucial functions like the ransomware shield, reinforced firewall, or the Sandbox function to only those who pay, which considering how useful these tools are might be tempting enough for many to purchase access to the upgrades. While these features can be unlocked for free via a risk-free trial when upgrading, the problem is that unless you opt for a longer subscription, upgrading is quite a pricey endeavor.
The cheapest paid version is $59.99 per year, but to have all the antivirus features you will need Avast Premier for $69.99 a year. The most complete solution is Avast Ultimate, which includes Cleanup Premium, Passwords Premium, and SecureLine VPN – only available as separate apps for platforms other than Windows – but this costs a whopping $119.99 per year. Sadly, however, the Ultimate package doesn’t even include the driver updater or AntiTrack, which must be subscribed to separately for $49.99 and $39.99 per year respectively.
Contacting Avast’s staff is quite a challenge because live support doesn’t exist in the traditional sense. Granted, a live chat can be started with a staff member via the company’s Facebook page, but for the most part the only way to talk to an Avast representative – or other users for that matter – is to visit the forum. However, seeing how thorough the built-in help guide and the online FAQs are, contacting Avast may not be necessary at all. And then there’s the fact that Avast also maintains a site called Online Threats Academy where users can learn about security threats involving computers in a clear and straightforward manner.
There is also a remote desktop service called Avast Top Care that is ideal for those who prefer experts to look into their devices, but note that despite offering a free assessment of an issue, this assistance costs at least $79 per occasion.
Avast has been a true market leader for quite a long time and its free antivirus clearly showcases just how worthy of that title it is. Having the option to choose from many antivirus scans – most of which are customizable – and being provided with effective background monitoring ensure that whichever device Avast is running on is kept protected and in top shape at all times.
Admittedly, being constantly reminded that certain, often crucial security features need to be purchased to get full protection can be annoying, but rest assured that the free version of Avast is powerful enough to perform the necessary antivirus tasks without the need for upgrading. With handy free extras like a password manager or a secure browser and the fact that it can run on multiple devices and platforms, Avast is undoubtedly an ideal pick for those looking for high-quality protection for all of their devices.
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