Design: Avast's new layout is a unique and clean take on managing security. Rather than copying a flat Metro look like so many others, Avast organizes its environment and prioritizes it in a sensible manner. Flat icons and subtle menu animations look great, secondary pop-out menus don't feel cluttered, and the toggle icon also helps create a cleaner experience.
Security: An improved firewall, noninvasive scanning, and a complementary, crowdsourced, whitelisting approach via Community IQ keeps this security suite on alert for untrustworthy sites and phishing scams. A noninvasive browser add-on protects your Web usage with built-in do not track integration and selective blockers for analytical and social trackers.
Utility: Avast represents itself as more of a security manager than just a conventional scanner. This version includes a command center-like dashboard for tracking security statistics, pop-up notifiers for system status and security news, a multidevice manager, and a streamlined upgrade pipeline via in-app store.
Small disclosure: Installing certain components like browser plug-ins, useful though they may be, can also be viewed as an unwanted surprise. The installer gives you options to install various components but throws a lot of information and component offers to users at once without much to go by.
Varied performance: According to a previous protection report from August, Avast scored higher than the average scanner but still behind many of the top performers. The added browser plug-in, though great when it works, sometimes became sluggish when we tested out some sites with heavier analytic trackers.
Information overload: Global and personal stats are great to see, but are they really useful for the average user? Even an advanced technician can really get only so much value out of numbers without any real numerical or unit-based indication of what they represent. Perhaps a market researcher may get more use out of this.
This year's Avast release has distinguished itself as not just a malware or antivirus solution, but also as a full-on security monitor for your machine. It comes with great design, displaying a lot of information yet maintaining a high usability factor for the core feature of virus removal and malware scanning. Avast has created value beyond the security scanner, and this version is a huge leap over last year's Avast 8. We expect its protection scores to continue to increase as protection scores from third-party vendors get released.