Avast Free Antivirus

Avast Free Antivirus

Download Editors' Rating:
5
Spectacular
Average User Rating:
4.5
out of 26494 votes

Quick Specs

  • Version:
    7.0.1456
  • Total Downloads:
    333,735,609
  • Date Added:
    Jul. 03, 2012
  • Price:
    Free
  • File Size:
    4.77MB
  • Downloads Last Week:
    1,155,403
  • Platform:
    Windows
  • Product ranking:

Editors' Note: Ask, read, and answer questions about Avast antivirus and security software in the Avast Forum on CNET.

Editors' Review

+

Looking to compete with both paid and free security suites, Avast wants to create a unified approach to your computer security. Long gone are the days of the quirky interface. Avast is accessible and robust, with an impressive list of free features and strong, though hardly stellar, performance benchmarks.

Installation
Avast has improved its installation process so it's faster than before. It's not the fastest on the market, not by a long shot, but a standard installation took us about three minutes -- around the same as last year.

Some items of note during the installation that will come up later in the review: To avoid the Windows 7 and Vista desktop gadget, or the WebRep browser add-on, you must choose the Custom install option and uncheck those here. Firefox and Internet Explorer will all block WebRep from installing by default, but it may be easier for some to cut it off here.

Automatic installation of these features is frowned upon, although Avast does provide a clear method for uninstalling them. It's just not as simple as a check box that gets its own installation window, since you have to go through the Customize menu, which makes the auto-install sort of surreptitious.

Also during the install, you are opted into Google's Drive desktop manager. If you're a Google services addict, this is a good reminder to get the client app. If not, well, it's a small piece of bloatware to uninstall later. Such are the installation blues.

Unlike last year, installing Avast once again requires a reboot. Still, the uninstallation process left no detectable traces on the desktop or in the registry.

One installation option, available only from the custom install menu, lets you sideload Avast as a secondary security program to supplement your main one. We're not big fans of this option from a security point-of-view, because it can bog down your system resources without actually making you safer. However, as a way to see if you like Avast, it's not a bad thing as long as you remember to choose one security suite to go with.

Interface
After three years of nearly identical interfaces, Avast 8 brings an entirely new suit of clothes with it -- sort of.

While the underlying submenus and settings screens look and feel similar, there's a new home screen that emulates the Windows 8 blocky tile-and-icon style. A colored status box on the left lets you know in green or red whether you are secured or not, while six tabs to its right give you access to the suite's security features.

These tabs provide quick access to specific features: Scan, Software Updater, SafeZone, Browser Cleanup, AccessAnywhere, and the Market. With two direct links from the home screen, Avast is really pushing the market idea, which is basically a landing page from which you can purchase additional Avast-branded tools such as a password manager, data backup, or download the free Android and Mac suites.

At the top of the home screen are links to Security, Maintenence, Market, Recommend, and Support. Account and Settings access lives to the far right of them. The Security tab is the most important one, and gives you access to Avast's numerous shields, as well as a list of subcategories on the left nav: antivirus, anti-spam, firewall, software updater, and tools.

One smaller but noticeable change is that the free version now decorated with a white background, to separate it from the dark-themed paid upgrades. Yeah, it's a color scheme change, but since most of Avast's customers use the free version, it's a noticeable one.

Overall, the new interface is more user-friendly, and that's a plus. The workflow behind the touch-friendly large icons makes it easier to go directly to key features, such as Avast's popular shields, and much of the jargon has been replaced with more easily understandable terms.

It still runs in Windows 8's desktop mode, so it's not a true Metro-style app, but it has that look.

Features and support
Avast 8, comparable with the 2013 version of competing suites, includes several new features that directly affect your security. Changes to existing Avast features include increasing the number of virus definition file updates per day, from 20 or so in the previous version to more than 70 per day in version 8. When running on battery on laptops, Avast will automatically disable scans until the device is plugged in, and the suite now offers full IPv6 support.

Like both the paid and free competition, Avast has a file reputation system for evaluating downloads. The browser add-on WebRep for on-the-fly site evaluation that also checks for fake site certificates is lighter on your browser than competitors' heavyweight toolbars.

The free version of Avast is arguably the most comprehensive set of freely available security features on the market. There's a reason these guys have more than 170 million active users (at the time this review was written). The antivirus, antispyware, and heuristics engines form a security core that also includes multiple real-time shields. Along with the new features, it's got Sandbox for automatically walling off suspicious programs; a full complement of shields that guard against scripts, P2P networks, instant messaging, and potentially dangerous program behavior; a silent/gaming mode; on-demand boot scanning; and a healthy output of statistics for the data nerds.

Avast's Sandbox, by the way, automatically places programs in a virtualized state when it suspects them of being threats. It walls off suspicious programs, preventing them from potentially damaging your system while allowing them to run. As the program runs, the Sandbox keeps track of which files are opened, created, or renamed, and what it reads and writes from the registry. Permanent changes are virtualized, so when the process terminates itself, the system changes it made will evaporate.

The company hasn't said whether the virtualized state begins after the program already has access to your system, so it's theoretically possible that it could be compromised. There's not a single security feature in any program that hasn't been been compromised at some point, though, so "theoretically hackable" is true of all security features.

But it's the new features that drive interest in the suite, and this year's got some very interesting improvements and one dud. The new Software Updater tells you when your programs are out of date, but it doesn't leave you hanging. It provides links to update them directly from within Avast.

This includes known security vectors such as Java, Flash, QuickTime, and PDF readers. In the free version, the updater will automatically download the software update, which then opens its installer. It still relies on user interaction to complete the install, though. In Pro and Internet Security, you get a one-click update that downloads and silently installs the update. The Premier version removes the requirement for any user interaction whatsoever -- updates happen automatically and silently.

The new Browser Cleanup tool is available as a standalone download that doesn't require you to use Avast, but it also comes baked into all versions of the suite. It checks the internal storage and registry of Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome, searches for plug-in and toolbar references and helps you uninstall them.

Two entirely new features do the most to differentiate Avast Premier from its siblings. The suite includes a Data Shredder to ensure that deleted files and folders are unrecoverable using "conventional" techniques. It offers the industry standard three shredding options: a random overwrite, which overwrites files a user-specified number of times with semirandom bytes; a Department of Defense standard of overwriting; and the Gutmann method, the slowest of the three but the most secure.

You'll also be able to wipe only free disk space of remaining instances of data, or wipe an entire partition including on solid state drives, creating some nuance to its deletion options.

It looks like last year's Remote Assistance feature, for single-instance, friend-to-friend remote tech support, has been overhauled and turned into the new AccessAnywhere feature, the second Premier-only feature. It requires you to have Avast on both ends, which wouldn't be so bad, but the installation process for Avast is not as simple or fast as the installation for programs that focus on remote access, like LogMeIn or TeamViewer. Avast's installer alone runs more than 100MB, and the Avast requirement -- as opposed to gaining access through your browser -- hamstrings its utility.

Data shredding and remote access are interesting, but just not enough to get us to shell out for Premier. And sadly lacking from Avast 8 are any tools to directly address privacy concerns, a security issue which will only continue to grow as advertisers, network providers, and browser makers squabble over personal data collected and collated on people using the Web.

Avast also doesn't offer an on-demand link-scanning feature, as AVG and Norton do, although the company says that the way that Avast's Web shield behaves ought to protect you automatically from any malicious URLs by automatically preventing the URL from resolving in-browser. A page will appear letting you know that Avast has blocked the site because it is suspected to contain a threat.

Avast has plenty more nifty extras to help you out. The Troubleshooting section now comes with a "restore factory settings" option, which makes it easier to wipe settings back to a familiar starting point, and comes with the option to restore only the Shields settings, leaving other changes untouched, like permanently running in silent mode.

While these tools are clearly nonessential, and some of the prices struck us as high -- $10 for a Rescue disc? $50 for an annual backup service? -- we like that Avast gives its fans a chance to stay in its ecosystem. The Avast EasyPass, for example, is an Avast-branded version of RoboForm's premium password manager and is well worth the $9.99 annual fee.

In a day's worth of testing, none of the new features appeared to cause any negative impact on computer or browsing performance. Assuming these technologies work as advertised, your computer ought to be a fair bit safer from malware than it would without them.

Performance
Avast was generally well-received by the independent testing organizations, AV-Test and AV-Comparatives.

AV-Test.org gave the previous version of Avast a passing rating in its most recent test, on a Windows 7 computer from December 2012. Avast 2013, the suite's name for version 7, passed handily with a total score of 14 out of 18. A year before, Avast 6 struggled to pass, hitting the bare minimum of 11. Avast 2013 reached 4.5 out of 6 in Protection, 4.5 out of 6 in Repair, and a 5 out of 6 in Usability, for a total of 14. Usability includes testing for false positives.

AV-Comparatives.org also saw room for improvement in Avast during December 2012. The suite blocked only 95.5 percent of threats tested during that month, but then you could kick those up to a more respectable 98.7 percent with some settings tweaks by the user. This user-dependent margin of around 3 percent to 3.5 percent was consistent throughout the year.

Basically, AV-Comparatives found that Avast will keep you reasonably safe, but significantly safer when you turned detections and blocks up high. The testing organization gave Avast its Advanced certification in both the first half of 2012 and the second half, a marked improvement from the lackluster Standard certification in the second half of 2011.

Security program Boot time Shutdown time Scan time MS Office performance iTunes decoding Media multitasking Cinebench
Unprotected system 47.5 7.8 11.5 n/a 412 124 344 17,116
Average of all tested systems (to date) 59.9 13.7 12 1,008 413 125 345 17,147
Avast Free Antivirus 8 61.6 12.3 18.6 669 401 125 345 17,199
Avast Pro Antivirus 8 67.8 10.7 10.2 671 404 126 344 17,066
Avast Internet Security 8 61.3 12.6 16.6 686 411 125 344 17,067
Avast Premier 8 63.9 18.7 16.8 705 414 124 347 16,959

Note: All tests measured in seconds, except for Cinebench. On the Cinebench test, higher numbers are better.

CNET Labs system performance benchmarks show Avast 8 as being fairly middle-of-the-road. It's weak on startup time, generally adding 10 more seconds than average. Shutdown time impact was a bit faster than average, while virus scans were quite speedy and faster than many paid-suite competitors. Avast 8's footprint during common-use tasks such as MS Office performance, iTunes decoding, and media multitasking was average, as well. We'd like to see a much smaller hit on startup times, but other than that Avast 8 Free offers a reasonable trade-off. Avast 8's paid upgrades, however, could do much better.

As far as Avast's impact on system performance goes, in a real-world test Avast completed its scans in a timely yet not blazingly fast manner. A Quick Scan averaged about 28 minutes, slower than last year. The Full Scan averaged to 73 minutes. RAM usage was surprisingly light, with Avast only eating up about 16MB when running a scan.

Judging from these results, Avast has righted some of its benchmarking wrongs from the previous version, but we may adjust that judgment when CNET Labs' scores come in.

Conclusion
When it comes to your security, Avast 8 gets a lot right. It's got a usable, uncluttered interface, solid although not stellar benchmarks, and a set of features that keeps it at the forefront of Windows security.

We'd like to see the innovators at Avast HQ in Prague tackle the real privacy concerns of the modern Web, and the unimpressive AccessAnywhere keeps us from giving the Premier suite stronger marks.

Avast Antivirus 8 Free, on the other hand, continues to be a stellar choice for free Windows security, and we enthusiastically recommend it. Few people want security that turns a good machine into the malware equivalent of Swiss cheese, and on that count, Avast has your back.

 
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Publisher's Description

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User Reviews
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  • Current Version

    3.3

    out of 80 votes

    • 5 star 31
    • 4 star 13
    • 3 star 7
    • 2 star 10
    • 1 star 19
  • All Versions

    4.5

    out of 26494 votes

    • 5 star 19326
    • 4 star 4792
    • 3 star 827
    • 2 star 482
    • 1 star 1067
  • My rating

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1–10 of 80

5 stars

"excellent antivirus"

August 19, 2012  |  By tangara40

 |  Version: Avast Free Antivirus 7.0.1456

Pros

Free antivirus with constant up-date

Cons

to many pup-up

Summary

I purchase a antivirus and with constant update i ad 2 virus not catch and Avast detect them and block these virus.

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4 stars

"Best Free Antivirus in recent time"

August 18, 2012  |  By aranya_biswas

 |  Version: Avast Free Antivirus 7.0.1456

Pros

1. Easy on memory.
2. Best User Interface within all free antivirus
3. Real time shield does its job efficiently

Cons

1. It is on the top very recently. It has to prove itself in the test of time.

Summary

I just got protected from a external connection... called //js.pleasepassthecash.com// I have opened my normal mobile recharge site, but somehow the application came in, (I have no idea how it came in) from outside. I am happy that Avast protected me from this threat. Kudos Avast!!

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1 stars

"Terrible program, uninstalled"

August 18, 2012  |  By seabare

 |  Version: Avast Free Antivirus 7.0.1456

Pros

Didn't find any.

Cons

15 minutes to boot up after install. Uninstall was equally brutal.

Summary

Darn near bricked my Vista machine.

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5 stars

"Best free antivirus"

August 17, 2012  |  By ccookie66

 |  Version: Avast Free Antivirus 7.0.1456

Pros

Fast scans
High detection rates
Doesn't slow computer
Lots of updates

Cons

None. Very good antivirus.

Summary

Avast! Free has always been my favorite antivirus, and it has just been getting better. It is the best free antivirus program. Has many features as a paid antivirus has. Keep up the good work Avast!

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2 stars

"WARNING! - Obnoxious POP-UP Ads occur with this program"

August 17, 2012  |  By SteelWings

 |  Version: Avast Free Antivirus 7.0.1456

Pros

From Ad-Test.org it appears to prevent viruses

Cons

The annoying pop-up ads that came with this program coupled with the annoying voice which announces mundane tasks like "your virus definitions have been updated" have made me decide to uninstall this program. I originally was swayed by the sheer number of downloads that users appear to have done regarding Avast (according to CNET). Yet now that I've used it for a few days, I'll switch to AVG simply to avoid uninvited pop-up ads. So users BEWARE - This program comes with AD-WARE! and doesn't ask your permission prior to installing.

Summary

Seek another anti-virus program, one without ad-ware. Or at least be informed prior to installing this one. I looked forward to the advanced thinking of constant updates using the cloud but there's no amount of "advanced technology" that's worth unannounced invasion of one's computer by installing ad-ware without one's permission.

Updated on Aug 17, 2012

Seek another anti-virus program, one without ad-ware. Or at least be informed prior to installing this one. I looked forward to the advanced thinking of constant updates using the cloud but there's no amount of "advanced technology" that's worth unannounced invasion of one's computer by installing ad-ware without one's permission. It really made me wonder just exactly what else did this program install on my computer "without my knowledge" ? One can only hope it was the ad-ware and voice files.

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2 stars

"Ughhhh. Obnoxious popups to pay."

August 16, 2012  |  By FletchWasHere

 |  Version: Avast Free Antivirus 7.0.1456

Pros

I assume it does a decent job with its primary purpose, antivirus. Too bad it doesn't stop there. And btw, this is my first ever review... this program actually motivated (irritated) me enough to join CNet, (which is required) to give some perspective, and balance to the disproportionate and overly "gushiness" bulk of reviews about this app.

Cons

Irritating and obnoxious pop up ads take up a quarter of your screen multiple times a day: Never, since my last virus years ago, has any program been so brash as to interrupt my normal computer use to this degree. Sorry, I must uninstall this second and move on. After all, why would I have any confidence, that as a paying customer, I would not be similarly abused? Catch a clue Avast... Google didn't just own the search engine market because of a better engine. A huge factor was that it provided its function, but didn't distract and irritate people with flashy moving ads as all the others at the time (even though supporting a solid revenue model). They understand the difference between a service and utility site... and a destination site. Do the same with your app, and prosper in the same direction.

Summary

And just to eliminate the "he's just a critic without a helpful suggestion", here's a few, Avast. Don't ever animate yourself in my system tray.. at the most, switch to yellow be quiet when doing your job. You are not my foreground app and should never try to gain my attention or even cross my mind when doing your job.. unless you run into an issue that needs my decision. That include virus updates. I don't give-a-krap that you fetched the ball like you were supposed to. Tell me only if the update didn't happen like it should, then ask me when I want to hear from you again on the matter. Think about being on vacation without internet service: allow me to keep u quiet until either of us can do anything about it anyway (see below).
And be honest: Either be free, or free-to-try. And when it's time to make a living and sell some software, be humble and tactful. Only have the smallest of indicators show only a couple day before the trial is up, above your tray icon. "3 days left in trial. Click to show options.. or don't show me this again for 1 / 2 days, week, never"

================================

Effectively protecting you with antivirus is not enough. Unless Avast changes their activity as detailed above, don't support software that treats you like a moron, and without permission, uses your computer to push fear ads at you multiple times a day.

And CNet: You shape up, too. No revenue model with Avast is worth the damage to your credibility by inaccurately categorizing programs like this to your 'Free' area.

Flame off...

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5 stars

"Works the way I want it to"

August 16, 2012  |  By DioBrando05

 |  Version: Avast Free Antivirus 7.0.1456

Pros

Everything, definitely recommended it anyone looking for a great antivirus program

Cons

None that I come across, works excellently

Summary

Free version is great but really worth the money to upgrade

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2 stars

"More Improvement Needed"

August 16, 2012  |  By saif_msn

 |  Version: Avast Free Antivirus 7.0.1456

Pros

Very Effective Free Protection, Does What Its Supposed To Do, Lots Of Options.

Cons

There Are Some Compatibility Issues, Now PopUps? Payments?

Summary

I Liked Avast Very Much, Used It In Several PCs. Version 6 Was Very Good, But Version 7 Conflicts With My Genuine Windows 7 Professional X64 During Startup. Seems To Work Fine In WinXP Though. I Tried To Install Old Version 6 But Now It Wont Install Saying I Must Be Connected To The Internet & The Setup Will Download The Latest Version... How Funny! Now I'm Seeing The Reviews That It Generates PopUp Windows? This Wasn't Included In The Previous Versions! Why Now? Some Guy Also Wrote That I Need To Pay For Proper Removal Of Captured Viruses? After Using Version 6 I Thought Avast Was Gonna Rule As Free AntiVirus But Now Seems Like Avast Is Going Backwards With The Current Version. Switching Back To Microsoft Security Essentials Until Avast Fixes The Issues...

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5 stars

"The best antivirus yet!"

August 15, 2012  |  By StephenFP

 |  Version: Avast Free Antivirus 7.0.1456

Pros

Good Detection. Behavior Shield. Light on resources. Free!.

Cons

Scanning takes awhile.

Summary

One of the best!. It has great detection rate. it is light and fast. easy to use. and free. it really beats avg and avira by a long shot!!

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5 stars

"Nice Free anti-virus program"

August 14, 2012  |  By shepcom

 |  Version: Avast Free Antivirus 7.0.1456

Pros

It's a nice and free anti-virus program.

Easy to use.

Neat GUI. High detection rate. Take less resource compared with other anti-virus program

Cons

None at the moment.

Summary

It's a good anti-virus program which is worth of recommendation.

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Results 1–10 of 80

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Full Specifications

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What's new in version 7.0.1456
Version 7.0.1456 has fixed problem with random opening of the SafeZone and SSL connection issues with SMTP.
General
Publisher AVAST Software
Publisher web site http://www.avast.com
Release Date July 03, 2012
Date Added July 03, 2012
Version 7.0.1456
Category
Category Security Software
Subcategory Antivirus Software
Operating Systems
Operating Systems Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows
Additional Requirements None
Download Information
File Size 4.77MB
File Name avast_free_antivirus_setup_online.exe
Popularity
Total Downloads 333,735,609
Downloads Last Week 1,155,403
Pricing
License Model Free
Limitations Not available
Price Free

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