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Neil J. Rubenking Neil J. Rubenking Senior Security Analyst My Experience When the IBM PC was new, I was president of the PC User Group in San Francisco for three years. This is how I met the editorial team that brought me aboard in 1986. In the years since that fateful meeting, I have become an expert in security, privacy and identity protection, providing antivirus tools, security suites and all the types of security software their steps. Read the full biography
Editors select and review products independently. If you shop via affiliate links, we may earn commissions to support our tests.
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It might seem logical that antivirus companies offer free antivirus protection as a kind of leak leader, with only the most basic protection. Getting advanced bonus features would require you to become a paying customer. But in fact, many of the most popular free antivirus tools offer comprehensive protection
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Many extra features. Avast Free Antivirus offers you more than many competing commercial products. In addition to excellent virus protection, it adds a scanner for network security, browser protection, and more. It’s an impressive collection of security tools, especially considering it’s free.
Avast acquired rival free antivirus company AVG in 2016. Fans of both companies can rest easy; after years and years there is still no plan to combine them into one product. They both have millions of users around the world, but each is strong in geographic areas where the other is weak. And the basic antivirus module is identical in Avast and AVG AntiVirus Free, as our independent lab tests and tests have shown.
Since 1982, it has tested and evaluated thousands of products to help you make better purchasing decisions. (See how we test everything we review (Opens in new window).)
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This product is free for personal use only. If you want to use Avast in a corporate environment, you need to upgrade to Avast Premium Security, which replaces both Avast Internet Security and Avast Premier all-inclusive. It’s a simpler product line than most, just a free antivirus and paid package. Unsurprisingly, AVG follows the same pattern.
During installation, Avast offers to install Avast Secure Browser, stating that it is private, secure and fast. It is also your default browser by default. It will also ask you some questions to customize your settings and then run a custom scan. The previous version had an entire page dedicated to explaining how Avast uses your non-personal data and how you can opt out if you wish. It appears to have disappeared and replaced from the Personal Privacy page in Settings.
The largest part of Avast’s main window is a slate gray rectangle with some texture, decorated with a status icon and a large button called Start Smart Scan. The left menu allows you to switch from the main Status page to Security, Privacy or Performance. At the bottom you will find a banner with a welcome gift. Unwrapping the virtual gift reveals a discounted upgrade to Avast Premium Security. If you decline the update, it offers a 60-day trial. Avast really wants you to try this suite and be passionate about its premium features.
One feature of this product deserves a special mention because it is practically invisible and disabled by default. When you go into settings and enable passive mode. Avast tries to avoid interfering with other antivirus tools. If you install another antivirus, passive mode starts automatically. To avoid conflicts, disable all real-time checks and other active protections. However, you can start scanning manually. There is a precedent for this behavior: Microsoft Windows Defender Security Center does something similar.
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You may not realize it, but in most cases antivirus companies pay for the privilege of testing their products in independent labs. Benefits for society; a high score entitles him to brag, while if the score is low, the lab helps the company fix what went wrong. With a free antivirus that doesn’t generate revenue, a company might be tempted to avoid the cost of testing. Not Avast. We track four independent test labs that regularly report their results, and all four regularly include Avast. Three of them include AVG in their latest reports.
AV-Comparatives analysts (opens in new window) run a series of security tests, of which we track four. Products that achieve the minimum required score are classified as Standard, while products with advanced features and capabilities can be classified as Advanced or Advanced +.
Both Avast and AVG scored Advanced + in all three tests. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, ESET, G Data and Kaspersky also scored Advanced + in all three tests.
The AV-Test Institute (Opens in New Window) reports the capabilities of the antivirus in three areas: protection, performance and usability. With six possible points in each category, the maximum score is 18. Avast scored six points for usability, which means it did not mismark good programs or websites as malicious, and another six points for malware protection. It came close in terms of performance, with 5.5 points. AVG exactly matched this score.
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The total number of 17.5 points is high enough for AV-Test to designate both Avast and AVG as core products. Kaspersky Security Cloud Free also scored 17.5 points. However, note that in the most recent test, 10 products scored a perfect 18 points.
SE Labs experts (opens in new window) try to adapt as much as possible to real-world conditions, catching downloads and other web attacks using a replay system to target each tested product in exactly the same way. attack. The best products get AAA certification; others may be AA, A, B, or C certified. Like AVG, Avast has achieved AAA certification.
Several products have achieved AAA certification in the latest SE Labs test. Among them are Avira, Microsoft Windows Defender Security Center, and Norton.
MRG-Effitas (opens in new window) presents test results slightly differently than other laboratories. Products that can’t handle perfect or near-perfect protection will simply fail. We are following two tests from this lab. Avast appears in the latest report for one, while the other does not include Avast or AVG. Unfortunately, despite Avast’s past successes, it failed this latest test.
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One third of the current products we monitor do not show up in any of the lab results, and another quarter have only a lab test result. With four tests, Avast is clearly a strong contender. Our scoring algorithm maps multiple lab results on a scale of 0 to 10 and generates a summary score. Avast’s score of 9.6 is pretty good, although last time I checked it did better. AVG only appeared in reports from three labs, but because the excluded lab is the one where Avast failed, AVG’s overall score is even better at 9.9 points. The big winner is Kaspersky with the results of all four labs and a score of 9.9 points.
Malware originating from the Internet must encounter numerous layers of defense to infect your computer. For example, Avast could block all access to a URL hosting malware or delete the malware content before the download is complete – I’ll talk about these levels of malware protection shortly. If the file is already on your computer, like my malware samples, Avast assumes it must have gone through previous levels of protection. Like AVG, Emsisoft, McAfee, and a few others, check these files just before they run.
To test Avast’s malware blocking capabilities, I opened the folder with my current collection of malware samples and tried running them all. Avast immediately blocked over 90% of them and deleted them so quickly that Windows displayed a File Not Found error message. It killed some of those that managed to work before they could be fully installed, but it lost some low-risk types.
Avast detected 96% of the samples and scored 9.6 out of 10, the same as AVG. Sophos and G Data, tested on the same malware collection, scored 9.7 and 9.8 respectively. At the top is Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus, which earned a whopping 10 points.
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The unusual activity of several files warranted further investigation. Avast displayed a message stating that it has detected a suspicious file and promised to evaluate it in seconds. All of my hand-coded testing tools have triggered this warning; all three had a clean sheet. But when the ransomware sample went through the same check, it ended up in quarantine.
The samples I use for the malware block test stay the same for months. To evaluate each product’s capabilities against the latest malware, I’ll start with the malware hosting URL feed provided by MRG-Effitas (Opens in new window). They usually don’t have more than a few days. I try to run them all, log or antivirus
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