Most free antivirus programs don’t offer much besides basic malware protection, but Avast Free Antivirus is a half-step toward being a full-fledged security suite, with many features you’d normally be charged for. It has not only a password manager and a local-network security scanner but gives you lots of configuration options. [UPDATE: Since this review was first posted, Avast Free Antivirus has added a secure browser.]
Yet while it didn’t say much of our computer’s performance, Avast Free Antivirus took a long time to scan, and its malware protection could be better.
One of this edition’s new features needs a special mention because it’s virtually invisible. If you install another antivirus with Avast already on the system, it automatically goes into Passive Mode. To avoid conflicts, it disables all real-time scanning and other active protection. You can still launch scans manually. There’s precedent for this behavior—Microsoft Windows Defender does something similar.
Avast Antivirus Features
- Avast Free Antivirus matches new files with a continually updated database of malware signatures.
- Like most free antivirus products, Avast Free Antivirus has no sandbox to dry-run suspect software. But it does have a password manager, which you won’t find in most free AV software
- Avast Free Antivirus’ impact on system performance was excellent, as long as you don’t mind long scan times
- Avast’s user interface is bright, with lots of white, orange and green, although subsidiary windows can be darker
- Network security inspector.
- Password manager.
- Many useful, security-related bonus features.
- Absolutely free.
- Some bonus features require separate purchase
AV-Test Institute rates antivirus products on three criteria: protection, performance, and usability (where usability means few false positives). A product can earn six points for each. Avast earned that six points in protection and usability, but it fell down in the performance category.