Avast Internet Security

Avast Internet Security

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out of 1630 votes

Quick Specs

  • Version:
  • Total Downloads:
  • Date Added:
    February 23, 2012
  • File Size:
  • Downloads Last Week:
  • Operating Systems:
    Windows XP/Vista/7

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.

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.

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.

Avast's changes its design and its color scheme. While the paid versions retain a dark theme, Avast Free goes back to basic white. The interface across all four versions is now much simpler, with big tiles and easier-to-reach advanced settings.

Avast's changes its design and its color scheme. While the paid versions retain a dark theme, Avast Free goes back to basic white. The interface across all four versions is now much simpler, with big tiles and easier-to-reach advanced settings.

(Credit: Avast)

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.

Avast's new browser cleanup tool would've been killer a few years back, but it's still useful for keeping your browser shipshape. It's available in all four versions.

Avast's new browser cleanup tool would've been killer a few years back, but it's still useful for keeping your browser ship-shape. It's available in all four versions.

(Credit: Avast)

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.

Avast now comes with a software updater, which tells you when an installed program is out of date. It's available in all four Avast versions, although it comes with more options in the paid suites.

Avast now comes with a software updater, which tells you when an installed program is out of date. It's available in all four Avast versions, although it comes with more options in the paid suites.

(Credit: Avast)

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.

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.

Avast has finally put all of its "shields" in one management pane, to decrease your pain. They're available in all versions of the suite, depicted here in the Pro version.

Avast has finally put all of its "shields" in one management pane, to decrease your pain. They're available in all versions of the suite, depicted here in the Pro version.

(Credit: Avast)

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.

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
  • Current Version


    out of 68 votes

    • 5 star 58
    • 4 star 5
    • 3 star 1
    • 2 star 2
    • 1 star 2
  • All Versions


    out of 1630 votes

    • 5 star 1238
    • 4 star 232
    • 3 star 46
    • 2 star 30
    • 1 star 84
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Results 1-3 of 3

  • 2 stars

    "avast! Internet Security is not what it appears"

    August 12, 2014   |   By bdaniel230

    Version: Avast Internet Security 2014 2014.9.0.2021


    The anti-virus portion works well but not fantastically and not as well as some freeware. The Premier edition seems to find some virus or malware but not sufficiently to produce awe.


    Continually, with each program update not definition update, attempts to lure the user into installing Google Chrome. The Support Forums yield rude or unprofessional responses from company. Requests for refund or proportional refund met with unprofessional and rude responses.


    I downloaded and installed this software after seeing the rating on CNet. I don't think that avast! Internet Security is much more than a shill for Google Chrome. There is another con which I find even more unprofessional and that is the pushing of Grimeware which is poor at best and harmful if not used by an advanced user. I will take CNet ratings, in the future, through a jaundiced eye.

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  • 1 stars

    "Extremely disappointed"

    July 12, 2014   |   By carlos_spork

    Version: Avast Internet Security 2014 2014.9.0.2021


    If you are careful, it does not necessarily harm your computer or your Windows' installation.


    I have no strength left to write a detailed report on my own experience with this version or any of the previous versions: I am too tired and exhausted after struggling with the company's deceiving marketing practices, which are still getting worse with every new software update. Please read my summary below.


    I am an old-timer paid subscriber (a 3-user license pack since 2007, even before the company had its name changed).

    Let me be clear: My advice to everyone is to stay away from this product and any other sold by this company.

    I cannot but warn others about the setbacks and disappointing surprises I experienced with this product.

    Don't get me wrong: I admit that the product does not cause any harm your PC. That's the only PRO I can find.

    That said, I would suggest to anyone interested in a paid license to read all of the low-rated user-reviews first (for this and previous versions). I read them all and agree with most.

    I removed the software from my own PC a couple of months ago and left it installed on the other two devices in my household. Big mistake! My wife started wondering about some warnings she was getting from the software (instructing her to run some junk-software cleanup tool, which ended up being a hook into buying additional software from the company). That's when I removed it at once from my wife's and my daughter's PCs. Now I am temporarily using Windows' own security software until I find a replacement.

    For now, I'm stuck with a 3-user license expiring on November 19, 2014.

    Please follow my advice: do not subscribe to this software. I am sure you will avoid a lot of bitter regrets.

    PS: For anyone interested in knowing the details, I can provide proof of all of my tickets with the company, even when they "cleaned up" their incident-database some time ago when they "moved onto a different and improved support-software".

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  • 1 stars

    "A Big Hustle - Will Not Review Subscription"

    July 03, 2014   |   By kbrewer3351

    Version: Avast Internet Security 2014 2014.9.0.2021


    I can't find any Pros


    Constant hustle to buy more services (Grime Fighter, etc)
    I've gotten several viruses while under the "care" of AVAST
    Continuously forces me to change my home page
    Has its "partnered" programs that it pushes and sometimes forces on the customer


    I am a paying subscriber of AVAST Internet Security. AVAST frequently tells me that I have an undesirable/malicious/unneeded browser add-on (particularly in Mozilla Firefox). However, in order to have AVAST remove the add-on, I'm forced to make a choice between Yahoo or Bing for my new home page. Otherwise, AVAST will not remove the supposedly bad add-on. I want to keep the home page I have (Foxnews.com). But I can't go any further with the removal of the add-on unless I choose one of AVAST's choices. If I don't go through their dance, I'm continually reminded that I have bad add-ons. I inquired to AVAST as to this process. Here's their answer and a true testament to their arrogance (verbatim):

    We only offer the user search options of those companies who partner with us, and tailor that to the availability of that search service in your geography (e.g., an avast! user in the US would be offered Yahoo but not Yandex, whereas a user in Russia would be offered Yandex but not Yahoo). All search providers are welcome to partner with us to have their search service listed, but not all major providers have done so. We expect to expand that list of search services over time.
    If a provider that you want is not listed, you can always click on an option that is available so the offending toolbar can be removed, then go back into the settings for your browser and change the search according to your preference. Unwanted toolbars and other browser add-ons are a growing problem for users. We have seen user complaints steadily growing over the behavior of many browser add-ons. These add-ons have become more aggressive both in their installation and in their self-protection against uninstalled (in that regard, they look more and more like malware). BCU helps users by informing of the presence of these poor reputation add-ons and in removing them. Avast's objective is to incorporate BCU into a user's arsenal of protection technologies, defending against a certain class of aggressive browser add-ons that work by stealth, obfuscation, and various technical mechanisms against users' wishes and interests. BCU is a free tool, and during the use of that tool we may encourage you to use the services of partners of ours. These partners are all vetted and we feel offer the user a service of value. Accepting these offers helps keep the products free, but we do not require that you do so. You may opt out of the BCU reset process, or accept the use of another service if one is offered.

    Why Yahoo and Bing? Why not Google or FoxNews? The answer: they're not "partnered" with AVAST. Meaning there's money involved. Additionally, I've gotten several (two considered "high threat" which AVAST could not remove and which I downloaded and used other virus programs to remove).

    I will not be reviewing my AVAST subscription.

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    Full Specifications

    What's new in version 7.0.1407
    • File reputation system: FileRep lets you know whether a file is safe before you open it -- determined in part by how many people have the file and how new the file is. The technology is also used internally, to help the scanning engine make more intelligent decisions.
    • Streaming, real-time virus database updates: Now you get each virus signature sent to you in real-time via a connection to the AVAST Virus Lab cloud, rather than needing to wait for a traditional database update. Your database will be continuously updated with the latest definitions.
    • Remote assistance: Our new Remote Assistance tool lets you initiate remote support from any 'geek' among your friends or family who agrees to help. Initiated by you, it routes through AVAST's servers, bypasses firewalls, and can be terminated by you at any time. You will never have to ask for help over the phone again.
    Further improvements:
    • Sandbox & Autosandbox improvements
    • Browser protection improvements
    • New installer
    • UI facelift
    • Export/Import settings
    • Screensaver facelift
    • W8 Compatibility (runs on Win8 Developer Preview)
    Publisher AVAST Software
    Publisher web site http://www.avast.com
    Release Date February 23, 2012
    Date Added February 23, 2012
    Version 7.0.1407
    Category Security Software
    Subcategory Internet Security Software Suites
    Operating Systems
    Operating Systems Windows, Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows Vista
    Additional Requirements None
    Download Information
    File Size 4.61MB
    File Name avast_internet_security_setup_online.exe
    Total Downloads 2,243,169
    Downloads Last Week 6,798
    License Model Free to try
    Limitations 30-day trial
    Price $49.99

    Previous Versions:

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