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New UI for effective Avast Pro

An A-list antivirus, Avast Professional 5 provides steadfast protection and a robust selection of features.

An A-list antivirus, Avast Professional 5 provides steadfast protection and a robust selection of features. This version is the paid upgrade of the better-known Avast Free, and includes several additional features. It doesn't have all of Avast's available features, and that last batch has been saved for another paid upgrade, Avast Internet Security.

Avast Professional protects you with multiple guards. The antivirus, antispyware, and heuristics engines form a security core that also includes multiple real-time shields. The adjustable mail and file system shields join the pre-existing behavior, network, instant messaging, peer-to-peer (P2P), script, and Web shields. The behavioral shield is a common-sense feature, as security software publishers leverage their large user bases to detect threats early and warn others. Other new features include a silent/gaming mode, a testing sandbox, a firewall, antispam measures, and an "intelligent scanner" that only looks at changed files after establishing a baseline. Users should note that Avast Internet Security is the higher-end version of Avast's two paid programs. Avast Professional 5 includes the sandbox and script shield, but not the firewall or antispam features.

The biggest change in Avast 5, though, is the interface. Gone is the music player default look, which was skinnable but confusing, and in its place is a sleek UI that new users should find far more manageable. It's also Aero-friendly, with Explorer-style navigation buttons in case you can't remember where you tweaked a particular setting.

Avast has been reliably effective, and recent independent efficacy tests indicate that it can hold its own against Symantec's Norton and other popular brands. The price of this version is comparable to those, too, albeit slightly cheaper in some cases. If you want the extra protection offered here and value the brand name, Avast Professional 5 is worth the cost if you're buying for just one computer.

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