If you are worried about your online privacy, about potential hacking or phishing attacks, or if you want to rest assured that you won’t accidentally download and install malware or other potentially malicious and dangerous files, Avast Antivirus could be the best solution for you.
Avast Free Antivirus is easy to install and will help you have a peace of mind, because it may be free, but it does encompass quite a lot of reliable antivirus, anti-malware, network security, password protection, and browser protection features.
Then again, if this is not enough, you can invest in the premium, feature-packed and affordable Avast Pro Antivirus pack, Avast Premier or the Avast Internet Security pack for Windows, or Avast Security for Mac. If you are not quite sure whether Avast is the best antivirus and internet safety software for you, read on to find out all you need about the program – the Free, Pro and Internet Security versions, its features, its pros and cons, and whether it complies with your expectations and requirements.
- Avast has excellently scored at the various testing lab and hands-on tests for detecting viruses, malware, phishing sites and attempts and other potentially malicious programs, websites and others
- It includes a nifty network security inspector, a password manager, and a number of other free useful features
- If you are a gamer you will love the Gaming mode, which stops certain functions in order to free resources and not interfere with your gaming
- The software is easy to install and is quite customizable
- The free version is really free – with no strings attached
- It implements a heuristics engine which can detect threats which are previously unknown
- A long history and good reputation for virus and malware protection
- The software is compatible with all platforms
- It also has a highly efficient browser plugin which will detect and alert you about potentially dangerous and suspicious websites
- Avast also offers its own free and safe web browser to use as an alternative to Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Explorer or others
- You can run multiple security products along with Avast thanks to the Passive mode
- It also offers an excellent security app for mobile devices
- The program doesn’t affect the overall performance of the computer noticeably
- The paid premium versions are very reasonably priced
- Certain special features in the Password Manager are paid and require separate purchase
- For home use only
- Registration is required
- Can be a bit complex to use for people who are not so tech savvy
- It does show some advertisements
- Slow boot scan
- The free package doesn’t include a firewall
In a nutshell
We do recommend Avast Free Antivirus as a basic antivirus engine for any home user as it has much more free features which other similar programs offer only in their premium versions.
It has scored very well in antivirus tests and is pretty good at recognizing and blocking malware and phishing attempts.
The free antivirus engine is an excellent choice for gamers who want to stay protected and yet play seamlessly without the program using too much of the resources of the computer during gameplay.
The Do Not Disturb Mode is perfect if you want to watch movies or work without being disturbed, as no pop-ups will show on the screen when the mode is switched on.
Avast seems to be the top overall pick for protecting multiple devices connected in one home network and will scan your Wi-Fi or your LAN network as well as each connected device.
About Avast Antivirus
Avast Software was established back in 1988 and has since grown into one of the leading antivirus giants on a worldwide level. In fact, the company claims that it holds the number one position on the market, with over 435 million users per month.
Avast Free Antivirus is a reliable and very capable protection tool which works well with Windows, Mac and Android devices. Thanks to the real-time protection and the automatic blocking of dangerous links and access to suspicious sites, as well as the scan of all unknown files, you can be pretty certain that you will be safe from viruses, and that your personal data will be safe from malicious programs and theft.
One of the best features of Avast Free Antivirus is that the package includes a number of completely free features without any hidden restrictions luring you to pay for an upgrade. The package also doesn’t include annoying third-party ads. It updates the antivirus info and specs on a regular basis for free, which will ensure that your security remains intact and safe at all times.
This free antivirus package offers much more features and better protection completely free unlike most of the other competitors, including the especially useful Network security, Password Manager, Browser Protection and others.
Several years ago, Avast acquired one of its main competitors – AVG, but the antivirus products are still offered separately. Both programs have thousands of users on a global level, but they cover different geographic locations. The results from the antivirus and performance tests show that both programs are very good in timely detection and blocking of viruses.
Keep in mind that Avast Free Antivirus is free only if you want to use it at home and with your personal computers and mobile devices. If you are interested in the program for commercial use, you will have to upgrade to the Avast Pro Antivirus version, and even better – to the Avast Internet Security pack or the Avast Pro or Avast Ultimate versions for Windows and the Avast Security upgrades for Mac. Avast has also released its suites targeted specifically towards businesses, including the Avast Business Antivirus Pro Plus and Pro versions available both for Windows and for Mac.
Another feature which is worth pointing out is the fact that Avast is practically invisible. If you choose to install another antivirus program, Avast will go into Passive Mode to avoid conflicts.
Overall, we must say that for a completely free antivirus program, Avast does perform like a paid security program or website and offers reliable antivirus and antispyware protection in real-time when you are browsing, downloading files, accessing websites, receiving e-mails, messaging or P2P transferring files. It also has an added hardened browser, a gaming mode, Wi-Fi scanning, a password manager and other features which you simply won’t get for free from the other leading antivirus packs.
The main features of Avast Free Antivirus
As mentioned earlier, Avast Free Antivirus contains much more features than other similar free antivirus packs. You can easily tweak all of the options via the Settings menu of the program. You can choose when the program scans your computer, network or specific directories, drives or files.
So, you can schedule your scans, add exclusions to those scans, and also choose only certain files to be checked. You can also pick options for the actions which should be performed if a virus or malware is found, as well as switch on automatic scans so that you don’t have to worry about the safety of your system ever. You can also turn off the audio alerts, or request that all scan results are mailed to an e-mail of your choice. Also, you can set up passwords for some or all of the settings of the program as well as restore all settings to the factory defaults in case something goes wrong.
The browser Avast add-on works pretty well by warning you when you are about to access a dangerous website or link, as well as alert you in case you are about to click on a malicious link as you are surfing the web.
The Wi-Fi Inspector is one of the free features which we appreciate the most. It will scan your home network, and will inform you of all connected devices, as well as whether unknown devices are connected. The Inspector will also scan each connected device for security issues, as well as the network for any poorly configured settings or vulnerabilities.
The Software Updater feature will scan your software for any missing updates and can even update them automatically for you, or download and install them. Avast will scan for updates for Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Adobe Reader, Adobe Air, Flash, Java, and other popular software.
The Game Mode setting will automatically switch off all notifications from Avast and will boost your gaming performance by limiting the resources being used by the antivirus program. You can also use this mode when you don’t want to be interrupted while working, watching a movie, or performing anything else which requires all of your attention.
The Behavior Shield in the free version will keep an eye on all of your programs and apps for any sudden changes in performance or for acting abnormally.
You will notice that the interface has icons which are greyed out, and are not accessible for the free version users. These include Sandbox and Firewall options. You will be reminded to upgrade if you try to access them, so if you don’t want to get these reminders, just stay clear of the icons which have padlock signs on them.
What’s covered in the free and in the paid upgrade versions
While the Free Avast software will provide you all of the basic features and security, if you want to further decrease the risks for your files, your privacy, and your online experience, you may want to upgrade to one of the paid versions offered by the Company. There are several paid packages available for Windows users and only one for Mac users – the Avast Security Pro.
Here is what to expect from the free and the premium paid Avast antivirus suites for Windows:
Avast Free Antivirus
The free version of the antivirus program offers the following main features:
- Real-time detecting, blocking of viruses, malware, ransomware, and other malicious threats
- Wi-Fi security scanning for weaknesses and for intruders in your home network
- Password vault and log where you can store your passwords securely and access website with a single click when a username and password is required
Avast Internet Security
Apart from all features which are already available in the free version, with Avast Internet Security, you will also get the following options:
- Safer shopping by avoiding fake or suspicious websites – this feature can help keep all of your banking information and your passwords safe while shopping online
- Sandbox – an option for running any suspicious apps in a risk-free environment which will prevent malicious software from harming any other part of your computer
- Firewall – a reliable firewall to block hacking attempts
- A safer inbox – the program can block any phishing or spam e-mails
- Added ransomware security – this feature can help protect your photos and other personal files from changes or unwanted access
Along with the features included in the Free and the Internet Security packs, Avast Premier adds even more extras for a safer computing environment including:
- Preventing webcam spying
- Permanent file shredding to ensure nobody can restore or recover deleted files
- Automatic app updating to keep all of your apps safe and up-to-date
This is the largest and most feature-packed version offered by Avast. It has all of the features of the Free, Premier and Internet Security packs, with added features such as:
- Avast Cleanup Premium which helps clean up all junk, speed up your computer and also free up space
- Avast SecureLine VPN which will encrypt your connection to the Internet for anonymous and safe browsing
- Avast Passwords Premium which will alert you in case of leaked passwords and will ensure that you seamlessly and safely log into websites with one click
You can purchase all of the paid versions excluding the Ultimate package with a 30-day trial, so you can get it and test it first before deciding whether you are satisfied with your choice and whether you are willing to purchase it.
Privacy and security features
If you are always worrying about your privacy, please note that if you decide to use the Avast Secure Browser, you will need to agree to the following: “You consent to have your search history and query transmitted to third-party search providers and to being redirected to third-party sites.”
This is something you cannot opt out of, but you can go to the Privacy Settings in the main menu and switch off any pop-up ads from Avast.
The Password manager can store an unlimited number of usernames and passwords and works safely and properly with Chrome, Firefox and with the Avast SafeZone browser.
As for the Wi-Fi inspector, you will receive free information about possible weaknesses in your network, and about intruders in the network.
You also will get a 7 day trial of the AvastSecureLine VPN which if you like, you can go on using after paying a subscription fee for mobile or for computer or for varied devices.
The Avast Rescue Disk is the perfect solution in the case for some reason or another your computer gets infected with malware. All you need to do is load the software via USB or CD and restart your computer.
The main interface window of Avast will inform you whether you are protected or not with a green check mark and the words “You are protected” or a red cross mark in case there are issues which you need to resolve.
The interface is pretty intuitive. You will get instant access to a Smart Scan button so you can check your computer for any vulnerable programs, malware or weak passwords, or problems with the network and the performance of your computer or mobile device.
You can also access the Protection Settings on the left-side menu where you can tweak all of the available settings. If you have installed the free version you will not have access to the settings marked with a padlock sign, including Firewall, Sandbox, Ransomware shield, and Real Site.
You can schedule your computer of file scans to run automatically on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, or whenever you restart or boot up the computer.
Overall, the interface is very simple and easy to understand even by people who are not too familiar with computers and technology. Yet, if you are an experienced user, you will get the chance to tweak and customize just about any feature and option in accordance with your preferences and needs.
If you don’t want to be bothered by alerts, just pick game Mode. You can also disable protection temporarily and check into your virus chest to see which files have been chested and isolated due to possible or known risks.
Installation and customer support
You will need less than 10 minutes to install Avast Free Antivirus. The technical requirements to install the free program are to have Windows 7 or above, 1 GB of RAM and 2GB of free space on the hard disk.
If you want to install Avast on Mac, you need to have Apple Mac OS x 10.9.x or above, as well as a 64 bit Intel based computer with 512 MB of RAM and at least 256MB of free hard disk space.
As for the mobile Avast Security app, you will need a phone or device with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or newer and an internet connection. You can also find the Avast Mobile Security app on your iOS device – both the free and the paid version. Just find Avast Security & Photo Vault in the App Store, download and install it.
When you install Avast Free Antivirus on your computer you will get to choose among 48 different languages including the incredibly entertaining Pirate Talk. You will be asked whether you want to make the Avast SafeZone browser the default one, and also whether you want to install the mobile app on your device as well.
It will offer to install Chrome and make it your default browser, but you can opt out of this option. The installation wizard will also offer to send you a link for downloading the mobile version on your mobile device as well – this one is optional too.
After the first 30 days of use, you will be asked to register and all you will need to enter is some basic data like your name and e-mail address, so there is nothing complicated or worrisome.
As for customer support, there is no phone for tech and customer support offered by the company. Instead, you can use the FAQs, the forums and communities, the installation tips and the knowledge base provided by the Company or elsewhere in order to handle any problems with the program.
If you are an experienced user, you can choose the Custom Installation option when installing Avast, so you can pick from 14 separate modules offered by the company and choose only the ones you need.
Avast is not as invasive as other antivirus programs, and if you install it on a device which already has some sort of antivirus protection, Avast free Antivirus will automatically switch itself to Passive Mode, which will allow you to run scans and use some features but will not protect you in real-time. Of course, you can turn the Passive Mode off and let both antivirus programs or apps work together.
The ease of use
The ease of use of Avast is probably the main reason why this antivirus software is so popular on a global level. The interface is incredibly simple and intuitive even for newbies and for those who are not tech savvy.
It is easy to download and install. Once installed, you will get access to the menu with four basic options – status, protection, performance, and privacy. By clicking on them, you can customize the features as you prefer. You can also perform a Smart of a complete scan of your computer or device, or schedule it for later.
Avast runs without disturbing you. Once you close the main window, the program will continue running in the background and provide you with real-time protection from viruses and malware. In case of a detected malicious or suspicious file, the program will alert you, block the file or website and isolate any dangerous files in the virus chest.
The Antivirus protection function
Of course, we cannot review Avast without discussing how it performs when it comes to virus protection. Avast Free Antivirus has an initial defensive layer which scans the files and compares them to known malicious files. The second layer of the antivirus program actually monitors real-time activity as well as parts of the code in order to indicate if there is a malicious attack on your computer. Any file out of the ordinary or which is suspicious will be sent to the cloud for analysis. In case it is confirmed as malware all of the hundreds of millions of users of Avast will receive the new malware signature with the next update of the virus definitions.
If you install the Avast browsers add-on for Chrome or Firefox, it will block attempts to access dangerous or suspicious sites and links, as well as away from any potentially dangerous software. Avast will also scan all e-mail attachments you receive for any potentially dangerous software.
Avast has been tested by all leading antivirus tests, and the performance results for correctly and timely identification and blocking of viruses or malware are pretty impressive.
According to the Home User report for 2018 by AV-Test in Germany, Avast managed to block 100% of a test sample of threats and raised fewer false alerts than other antivirus programs. The lag of the performance of the other programs and the entire system, while Avast is running, has been found to be minimal.
As for the Austrian-based AV-Comparatives Real-World Protection report from the end of 2017, Avast came up in 10th place when it came to threat detection accuracy and rate (99.5%) while the competition from Kaspersky and Avira managed to score a 99.7% rate, ESET has 99% and McAfee 98.9%. In March 2018, this testing lab awarded Avast with 100% security against malware.
The tests performed by SE Labs in the UK resulted in a fifth place out of 13 for Avast, following Norton, Kaspersky, ESET and Avira. This test includes not only the detection of malware but also how the programs react to more sophisticated attacks which usually target journalists, politicians and other people of interest.
On the tests performed by MRG Effitas for detecting banking Trojan software, Avast received a Level 2 certification. This means that at least one virus managed to pass through the program but was deleted from the device within the next 24 hours.
The good news for Avast fans is that the program scored pretty high when it came to tests for the impact on the performance of the system done by AV-Comparatives, especially when it comes to archiving, file copying, downloading files, browsing, launching programs and apps and others.
Overall, the tests results are very good, even though they are not quite as spectacular for Avast Windows antivirus programs as compared to some of the other free antivirus programs.
If your computer gets infected with ransomware, chances are that you will lose a lot of your files due to the fact that they will get encrypted. This is why it is essential to have a program which offers reliable protection from ransomware.
Avast offers several layers for protection against malicious software and even in the free package, a strong level of security against ransomware is offered.
Also, Avast offers free tools for decryption in case your files have become encoded by certain types of ransomware.
Phishing websites are malicious replicas of reputable websites of banks, payment systems, and others. Once you log in the phishing website, you will provide all of your access info to the fraudsters. Avast can handle real-time phishing detection very effectively which will ensure that your data, account info and your money will be safe from prying eyes. In fact, Avast is among the leaders in the phishing tests performed by labs and experts, following McAfee Antivirus Plus, Kaspersky, and Bitdefender, and scoring the same results as AVG, ZoneAlarm and Trend Micro.
The Avast scan options
You can easily start scanning your computer or device for malware by clicking on the big Smart Scan button on the status screen of Avast. This scan will check your files, as well as any add-ons in your browsers, the network security, software that needs to be updated as well as weak passwords. The Smart Scan option is quick and will provide you with an extensive report of any problems or weaknesses with your computer or network. But if you want to resolve these problems automatically you will need to update to the paid cleanup product offered by the company.
If you choose the Scan option on the Protection page of Avast you will start a deep scan which can take up to two hours or even longer. This scan will look for previously existing malware and will ensure that further attacks are fended in real-time.
Gaming mode will automatically detect when you are playing a game online and will add your gaming sites to its safe list for an even quicker response. When in Gaming mode, Avast will still keep you protected but it will suspend certain actions which can distract you from your game, such as pop-up alerts, or others which can slow down the performance of your system and thus have a negative impact on your gaming experience.
This feature is pretty cool for people who enjoy gaming but want to ensure that they are protected from malware and other threats at all times.
Avast is one of the pioneers when it comes to network security scanning. The program can scan both wireless and wired networks for any security problems and weaknesses, as well as for unauthorized access of unknown devices and users in your network.
The basic Password Manager offered by Avast can be activated as a browser extension for Chrome or Firefox, and once you set up a Master password for all of your accounts, the Password Manager will help you access your accounts on secure sites safely and without having to enter your username and password every time. It can handle multiple accounts on the same sites, as well as offers the automatic generation of 15 character passwords for you.
You can use the app to edit all of your passwords, you can also use it as a vault for secure credit card details and notes as well. This will allow Avast to fill out your credit card details automatically when shopping online, and yet keep the data perfectly safe.
You can synchronize all of your password and other sensitive data with your other computers or mobile devices as well.
For a small added monthly fee, you can subscribe to get alerts in case of a password leak, get tech support and can log into mobile apps via fingerprint.
Rescue disk creator
Another excellent feature included in the Avast Antivirus package is the Rescue disk creator. It allows you to easily make a bootable USB flash drive or CD in case your system gets infected with malware which you cannot remove. With a rescue disk like this you will save yourself the trouble of having to search for recovery rescue software, and simply reboot your Windows system with the rescue disk plugged in.
The Avast browser add-ons
You can download and install the Avast extension to your preferred internet browser – Chrome or Firefox, and you will be safe while you are browsing, with any attempts for attacks of your privacy and security being blocked by the useful extension. You can add to the safety of your surfing experience by adding the SafeZone browser extension as well. Avast will install its Password manager and its Online Security extension, but you may need to enable it manually by entering the Internet settings of your browser and searching for all downloaded extensions.
The Avast Online Security add-on will alert you with different colors whether the website is safe or not. It will also display the number of advertising trackers found at any given website. You can choose to block some or all of the trackers via the extension.
Online Security will also keep you safe from navigating to a so-called “typosquatting” website which relies on typos of popular web addresses and profits from your clicks.
Avast Secure Browser
This free browser offered by Avast will allow you to browse the internet in incognito mode. It will automatically block ads and will make your internet surfing quicker and safer.
Premium and bonus features in Avast
Some of the useful features and options offered by Avast are paid. Here are some of the useful bonus and premium features which you can invest in:
Avast Driver Updater
This feature will help reduce system crashes by updating any broken or old drivers. It is particularly useful if your system has been slowing down or its performance has been lagging.
Avast Cleanup Premium
When you run a scan of your entire system, Avast will inform you of all of the problems, weaknesses, and issues with your system, but in order to get them fixed automatically, you will need this paid cleanup feature. It will easily resolve a number of serious and not-so-serious issues with your computer and will ensure you rest assured that any potential risks and issues have been handled without the risk of losing important data during the cleanup process.
Safe Price extension
This paid browser add-on will help you find the best prices of the products and services you are shopping for. It also will offer you coupons when they are available.
Avast SecureLine VPN
You can try this feature out for free for 60 days and then decide whether you want to pay for a VPN which will allow you to browse the web anonymously and to help protect your online privacy and data by encrypting the information transmitted by and to you.
This is a paid browser add-on which supplements the Avast Do Not Track protection which is offered by the Avast Online Security browser extension. This add-on will prevent those annoying ads from following you around on each and every website you choose to visit. AntiTrack will also warn you if any snoopers are attempting to follow you and will successfully stop them.
The Pro only features
As we have mentioned before, you will get different features for the different antivirus upgrades. Some of the more useful ones include the Firewall, Sandbox, Real Site, and Ransomware Shield. Go to our section about what is covered in the free and the paid Avast packages to find out more about these and other added features which you will get if you decide to buy one of the paid antivirus upgrades offered by Avast.
The pair premium suites by Avast used to be quite expensive but recently the windows Premier plan has become much more affordable, and so are the other paid antivirus suites offered by the company. You can save money by buying 3 or 2 years of protection instead of 1, as well as purchasing the suite of your choice for 1, 3, 5 and 10 devices or users. The more the devices – the lower the price per device.
You will get a 30 day trial for the premium packages too, so you can try them out before actually buying them.
As you can see, Avast Free Antivirus is a very reliable, efficient and feature-packed antivirus solution available for all platforms and devices.
The performance of the antivirus program at the tests done by independent labs is very satisfactory for a free program. Avast Free Antivirus is easy to download, install and set up. It will not mess with the performance of your computer or device and will protect you from the background.
It has multiple features that no other free antivirus program offers, and if you want to further ensure that you and your data stay safe, you should consider adding some of Avast’s paid features or buying one of the paid upgrade packs offered.
We strongly recommend Avast Free Antivirus to any home user who wants a completely free antivirus program with no strings or complicated registration attached. The program will ensure that your computer stays safe at all times, and will automatically detect when you are playing a game or watching a movie so that there are no distracting notifications or a lag in the performance of your device or computer.
So, go ahead and download and install the program right away, and enjoy the user-friendly and feature-packed antivirus software on your Windows, Mac, Android or iOS device or computer! If you are already very happy with the free version and want to receive even further protection and more useful features and apps, opt for one of the available paid upgrades!