With a clean and dark interface, Avast doesn’t look out of place in a Windows environment, particularly the modern interfaces beginning with Windows 7. Although looks may play a part in the judgment of an antivirus package, what matters most is what it can offer in terms of protection.
You are greeted with a Status screen once the Avast interface loads. The information presented on the screen is pretty straightforward: it lets you know that you are protected and provides a button that you can click to run a Smart Scan. Apart from those, it also offers information regarding updates and license (not needed when you are running a free version).
Apart from Status, there are three other tabs on the left-hand portion of the screen. Clicking on the Protection tab provides you with access to different features with those available for paying customers sporting a lock beside the icon. Among the free features include running anti-malware scans, creating a rescue disk, finding network issues, and updating old software. There are three options for malware scans: a Smart Scan, a Full Virus Scan, and customized scans (Quick Scan, Folder Scan, USB/DVD Scan, and Boot-time Scan). You can also view your Scan History as well as see the Virus Chest, which lists the viruses found on your device.
The Privacy tab lists the following services: password management and private browsing through SecureLine VPN. Although the availability of a built-in password manager is a nice thought, it might cause hassles when transferring data when you want to switch to a different antivirus package.
Lastly, the Performance tab features services for improving performance and a gaming mode, which disables interruptions so you can continue to play games without experiencing any lags.
Avast’s Settings can also be accessed on the left-hand pane. There are more options available here: General, Components, Update, Subscription, Troubleshooting, and About Avast.
Although Avast is available for free, its makers do need to make money and they do that by bundling the software with items you do not want and need. For instance, the software will try to install a SafePrice browser extension, a price-comparison generator, but you have the option to remove it after installation or rejecting it outright.
Free antivirus products also have this problem with advertisements. It’s a way for these applications to be available for no cost at all but at the same time offer a way for makers to earn money. This is something that you have to deal with if you don’t want to pay but unlike other antivirus packages, Avast’s advertisements aren’t too enthusiastic.
In terms of performance, Avast was able to identify 100% of malware in two real-world exposure tests run by AV-TEST. The tests were carried out in two successive months and only one false positive was seen.
SE Labs also ran real-world detection tests where the product was able to protect against 87% of malware that were general threats and targeted attacks. The software did score low in terms of accuracy on the SE Labs test because of a few false positive responses.
Official tests aside, Avast is a pretty good protection package to have on your system. It’s not a resource hog and a full malware scan can be completed in less than 20 minutes. Although Avast is a good product, there are other free options available if you want to try other packages.