Review of Avast! Free Antivirus (Version 6.0):
We couldn't help but be impressed by Avast! Free Antivirus, a superb application with a fast installer, intuitive user interface, and a solid feature set. While its built-in Help features left something to be desired, further examination of the Avast! website showed it to have one of the better customer service models in the free antivirus application market.
1) Installation: 5/5
On our reference machine*, Avast! Free Antivirus took only 79 seconds to install, and required no system reboots. The installer itself is non-intrusive, presenting only two user prompts before installation proper begins. While the installer interface wasn't the prettiest we've ever seen, it was one of the fastest and easiest to comprehend. (See Installation Time Comparison Graph)
*Reference Computer: Windows 7 Home Premium running on a Toshiba Pentium Dual-Core T4200, with 3GB of RAM and a 210GB hard drive.
2) Features & Ease of Use: 9.5/10
Avast! Free Antivirus provides a few less features when compared to the commercial Avast! Internet Security. With Avast! Free, you won't be able to secure your personal data (using Advanced Secure Firewall), or detect spam and phishing e-mails (Antispam).
Avast! Version 6.0 Dashboard:
View More Avast! Screenshots
What Avast! Free Antivirus does provide is a highly usable interface for protecting your computer from viruses in real time. As soon as it's installed, Avast! updates its virus database and begins scanning your hard-drive for infections. The protection offered is complete: Avast! Free scans all possible points of vulnerability, including file writes, Web downloads, arbitrary network connections, and downloads from a host of Instant Messaging (IM) and Peer-to-Peer (P2P) applications. An excellent feature called Real-Time Shields displays a moving graph for each point of how many transactions Avast! is scanning every second, plotted against a red-line that shows how many infections have been found to date. The Expert Settings dialog on each Real-Time Shield display allows one to configure real-time scanning options for each point of vulnerability;
for example, you can instruct Avast! whether or not to scan files when they are opened vs. written, and to scan files when they are attached to e-mail messages, among other options.
One major criticism of the Avast! interface: by default, Avast! Free Antivirus enables a feature called Voice Commands that announces whenever a major operation has been completed. First time users will likely be startled after the Avast! installer finishes and they hear the words "Welcome to Avast!" blast through their speakers. Fortunately, this annoying feature can be disabled in the Avast! Settings dialog.
New Features: This year version 6.0 adds to its already impressive feature set with AutoSandbox, WebRep, Script Shield, and Site Blocking. AutoSandbox identifies suspicious applications and prompts users to run them in a safe virtual environment to protect their computer systems. AutoSandbox is an unparalleled feature in a free antivirus program - and helps tip the scale in Avast's favor against its competition. WebRep provides data on websites in search results so you know whether they're safe to visit or not (data is obtained through Avast's community of 120 million active users). Script Shield further protects users as they browse the internet by blocking dangerous scripts, while Site Blocking allows users to block selected websites as its name suggests.
Nag Factor: Avast! Free Antivirus tries to bundle the Google Chrome web browser with the installation. Avast! also reminds you on its dashboard to 'Maximize Your Protection' by upgrading to Avast! Internet Security. Both are a small price to pay for an otherwise great free antivirus application.
Additional Features in Avast! Pro Antivirus 6 (paid version):
• SafeZone - keeps your accounts private while shopping or banking online
• Removal of nagging upgrade pitches
3) Virus Scanner: 3.5/5
Avast! Free Antivirus offers both a Full Scan and a Quick Scan. The Full Scan examines the entire computer, while the Quick Scan only examines the executable files (.EXE, .COM, .BAT, etc.) on your system drive. On our reference machine (see above), we found that Avast! Free Antivirus scanned our 1.0GB test file collection at a speed of 24.6 MB per second. This is a respectable scanning speed, but definitely slower than Comodo, Kingsoft and AVG which scan over 40 MB/s. Still, this is a speedy scan for a commercial antivirus application, let alone one that ships for free. (See Scan Speed Comparison Graph)
Avast! Virus Scanner:
View More Avast! Screenshots
Avast! Free Antivirus automatically downloads an average of 2 virus definition updates per day, which is on the low end for even a free antivirus application. Update frequency is the one area that Avast! Free Antivirus fails to impress in. (See Updates Per Day Comparison Graph)
4) Performance Testing: 8/10
A good antivirus program should not only prevent viruses and malware from infecting your computer but also not impact the Performance of your computer too much. We run each free antivirus program through a series of Performance Tests to see the impact it has on a standard computer. The results of our testing for Avast! Free AntiVirus are below:
Memory Use: Avast! Free Antivirus uses 3.4 MB of system memory. #1 ranked program of the 12 antivirus programs we tested this year.|
Reboot Time: Avast! added 20.0 seconds to our test computer's reboot time. #7 ranked program.
Installation Size: Avast! Free Antivirus 6 requires 236 MB of hard-drive space for installation. #6 ranked program.
Initial Scan Speed: Avast! scans files the first time at a speed of 24.6 MB/s. #6 ranked program.
Subsequent Scan Speed: Avast! performs subsequent scans at a speed of 24.7 MB/s. #9 ranked program.
Initial Application Launch: Avast! Free Antivirus 6.0 added 0.320s to launch a web browser for the first time after a reboot. #4 ranked program.
Subsequent Application Launch: Avast! added 0.197s on average for subsequent web browser launches. This was the #8 ranked program.
File Conversion Time: Avast! added 0.30s on average to convert a MP3 file to four other file types. #3 ranked program.
System Impact Score: The "System Impact Score" is a comparative score tallied from the above 8 Antivirus tests. Avast! Free AntiVirus scored a total of 60 out of 96 points when compared to the
other antivirus programs tested. This ranked Avast! as the 3rd (tied) best overall free antivirus program we tested - just behind ClamWin, and Avira AntiVir Personal.
View graphs of the above Free Antivirus Performance Tests.
5) Effectiveness: (Virus/Malware Detection) 12.5/15
The most important function of an antivirus program is to keep your computer free from Viruses and other Malware. Below we'll take a look at some of the industry's top Virus/Malware Detection testing and certification.|
a) AV Comparatives is an independent antivirus testing lab in Austria
providing some of the most trusted virus detection tests in the industry. They have 2 major virus/malware tests that they perform. In the most recent test in November, the Proactive Test, Avast! was rated 2 out of 3 Stars. In the 2nd test last August, the On Demand Detection Test, Avast! performed better receiving a 3-Star rating.
b) AV-Test is another major antivirus testing lab which is located in Germany. In their recent antivirus testing in 2010, Avast! received a 12.5 / 18 score on the Windows 7 platform. In the 2nd set of tests run on Windows XP, Avast! received a 13 / 18 score. While on the 3rd test run on Windows Vista, Avast! received a 13 / 18 score. All 3 of these scores were good enough to receive AV-Test's Certification level (12 points needed on each test for Certification). Overall, Avast performed well in these tests, however the scores were good, not great. Despite these tests being run on Avast!'s Internet Security software, they are useful when evaluating Avast!'s more basic antivirus program since they test the software's Protection and Repair capabilities against Viruses and Malware.|
Win 7: Win XP: Win Vista:
c) Virus Bulletin's VB 100% Certified. Avast! passed the most recent VB100 test (Feb./11), and has passed the last 13 tests dating back to June 2008. The VB 100% award is given to antivirus software that detects all viruses "in the wild."
6) Help & Support: 4/5
The misnamed "Help Center" menu in Avast! Free Antivirus is not a help center at all, but just a link to the application's local help file. You have to visit the Avast! website to find additional help resources. That aside, Avast's online support is quite good. The company maintains a heavily trafficked user forum that covers both free and paid versions. You can even log a support ticket as a free customer. Unlike some antivirus vendors, Avast! doesn't make you jump through hoops to contact a support engineer.
»Quick Support Links:
Avast! User Forum
Avast! Online Knowledge Base
Avast! Support Home (log a support ticket; free account registration required)
Avast! Free Antivirus 6.0 has overtaken its competition in the free antivirus market over the last couple years. With a Feature set head and shoulders above most of its competitors, good Performance, and Effectiveness to rival any in the free antivirus space, Avast! has proven that it is now undeniably the best free antivirus program available. Avast, ye matey!
|Overall Rating: Excellent || (Total Score: 42.5 / 50 = 4.5 Stars)|
| Version Tested:||6.0.1000|
| Release Date:|
| Review Date:|
| Last Updated:||June 16, 2011|
| Previous Version:||Avast! Free Antivirus Version 5.0|
| Other Avast! Software:||Avast! AntiVirus Pro (Version 6) (Commercial Version)|
Top 5 Free Antivirus Reviews:|
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