Avast is one of the most popular and high-demand antivirus software products with approximately 435 million active users. The reason why there are so many users is that for years Avast has been offering a very good product free of charge. Of course, things changed a bit after a big privacy scandal in 2019 when Mozilla, Chrome and Opera removed Avast extensions from their marketplaces. They claimed that Avast collects suspiciously large amounts of user information, including pages visited, geolocation, social media identifications, and even shipping history. Were those allegations legitimate and is Avast still a good option? We’re going to cover that and more in this review.
A brief overview of Avast Antivirus
Avast antivirus isn’t a newbie in the digital world, and it’s tug of war with cyber-attackers and has proven its performance capacity. However, in 2020, Avast was accused of stealing user data and selling it to corporations like Google. After the U.S. Senate’s and the general public’s negative reaction to the matter, Avast developers changed privacy settings in their extensions, and their add-ons were welcomed back to marketplaces.
However, critics say that the whole user-stalking situation has only been corrected in the main antivirus suite. The problem is that Avast (and AVG, which is now, essentially, the same company) acquired a company called Jumpshot that is used to collect and sell ‘anonymized’ data to the highest bidder. After attacks from the public, Avast discontinued Jumpshot altogether, but for 7 years they were collecting and selling users’ data.
It’s not like Avast is alone in this. Unfortunately, many companies these days do the same thing: claiming that datasets are untraceable and users agreed to certain information being collected. It’s also important to mention that all those privacy problems occurred with the free version of the product which is just an example that nothing is really free.
It’s up to you whether or not to entrust your traffic to Avast, but other than this scandal (that seems to be done and over), this antivirus offers a wide range of features to safeguard your computer, including a robust scanner, Firewall, Ransomware Shield, Sandbox, Wi-Fi Inspector, and many more. Whenever any malware tries to enter on your computer, Avast takes action and immediately blocks it and subsequently deletes it.
Avast: What Features Does It Have?
Let’s take a closer look at Avast’s features and see how suitable it is to fight modern cyber threats.
What does it do to protect my device from malware?
All antivirus products follow the same process to detect malicious software on your computer – scan your computer and compare every file to the known threats that are stored in the database. Good antivirus products keep their database in the cloud so that the database is updated all the time and use other tools that help to identify even yet unknown threats and protect your computer ASAP. Avast is considered one of the best antivirus products thanks to its advanced malware-detection tools.
Apart from an up-to-date database, they use real-time protection to identify potential threats while you’re working on something else. If this feature is absent in antivirus, it will only look for viruses when you actually run a scan. That’s risky because even if you’re running it every single day, the damage done by one piece of malicious software can be irreversible between today and tomorrow.
Types of scans
Avast offers 6 types of scans to detect the threats that were able to bypass the real-time protection feature. It also allows you to create your own type of scan if you feel the need for one.
Detects outdated software, malware, browser add-ons with a poor reputation, and network threats. It’s an efficient way to check your computer’s health that doesn’t take way too much time.
Full Virus Scan:
Checks everything you have on your computer, including storage drives and memory for viruses. This type of scan takes more time than the smart scan, but there is no need to perform it daily. It’s good to run a full scan when you first install antivirus and once a week after that. You can schedule it at specific times.
Examines specific files or folders. It’s a good option to run if you have noticed that your computer has started performing poorly after you’ve installed a new app or downloaded something.
This is a more advanced option that allows you to set your own parameters of the scan.
Scans specific files or folders directly from your desktop via File Explorer.
This one is unique to Avast. It allows you to identify and eliminate malware that exists outside the OS (e.g. It has already been kicked out by antivirus). It runs upon startup and scans your computer before any malware is launched and significantly increases your chances of preventing any damage.
AI&Machine Learning in Avast
On top of adding newfound threats to the database, Avast utilizes AI and Machine Learning to be on top of any kind of new sophisticated viruses, ransomware, and others. How does it work? There are next-Gen algorithms in place that scan and collect data across a huge user base. After automatically analyzing the data, the algorithm trains each security module to combat newly detected threats. That allows Avast to keep their protection not up-to-date, but up-to-minute without human involvement or hesitation. If you want to learn more about Machine Learning with Avast, read this blog post.
Additional Security Features
This feature makes sure that your home network is protected and your smart devices, including routers, won’t become a part of a bigger cybercriminal’s plan. I’ll explain. Sometimes hackers create bots that unite the power of thousands of home devices to overwhelm a certain website. WI-FI Inspector helps you to regain control over your home devices by exposing vulnerabilities like:
- Weak or default password
- Firmware vulnerabilities
- Unsecured wireless networks
- DNS hijacking
- Open network ports.
Avast goes through every email you get and scans it for potential threats. Now, some antivirus providers will only scan the body of the email, but Avast doesn’t stop there. It also scans attachments of any kind for suspicious links or downloadable threats themselves. It’s especially important today when phishing is on the rise and the majority of those attacks are conducted by email. Those emails usually look like legitimate emails from banks or your favorite stores, so it’s next to impossible to make them out with the naked eye.
Online Security Feature
This is an advanced feature available with the premium package. What does it do for you?
- Helps to avoid fake websites
- Walls of your private photos and files
- Protects stored data from the identity theft
- Runs browser cleanup to get rid of add-ons that were installed without your knowledge.
The way ransomware functions, it encrypts important files on your computer, and in order to access them, you’d need to pay a ransom. Ransomware Shield secures your personal folders and lets you know if any app wants to modify, encrypt or delete any of them.
It automatically protects all folders that can contain personal information, but you can manually change those settings.
A separate, more secure browser is a key to your safety when making payments online. After installing Avast antivirus, this browser will be your default web browser, but you can change it. Even if you do, we recommend launching it for online shopping or using banking apps.
If you go through Avast Secure Browser, you will find many essential security features located in the Security and Privacy section of the browser. The features are Adblock, Anti-Phishing, Anti-Tracking, Anti-Fingerprinting, SecureLine VPN, and Bank Mode. In the list of security browser features, some need manual operation, such as Adblock.
Now, you may wonder what is Anti-Fingerprinting exactly? Well, this is a new concept that secures your information provided on websites. As you know, browsers are loaded with digital fingerprints, and such sites use this information to show the page as per your search history. So, Anti-Fingerprinting removes the traces of the websites and thus prevents the websites from further accessing data.
Does it help to prevent phishing and spoofing?
Yes, it does. Avast uses AI to assess your online activity and spot emails from senders that are unlikely to be of interest to you. On top of that, it detects emails and attachments that have already been indicated as threats and assesses other factors like the website certificate, the age of the domain, and suspicious URL tokens to determine whether or not a site should be processed.
Avast deals with both by protecting your email and giving you an additional layer of protection with the online security suite.
According to AV-Comperitives Anti-Phishing Report from July 2021, Avast was able to detect 96% of phishing attacks with no false-positive results. You can see the full report here.
Is your Traffic Private with Avast?
Yes, because Avast offers a SecureLine VPN feature that masks your IP address and reroutes your internet traffic (searches, downloads, surfing) to the VPN servers. It makes your digital presence completely hidden, and no one can spy on your internet activity. VPN is available for an additional charge.
Most antivirus products that also offer some kind of VPN, provide you with very limited traffic and features. Surprisingly, Avast VPN has a decent amount of servers, allows to access geographically-restricted content and even has a kill switch feature. Kill switch means that whenever a connection to the chosen VPN server is impossible, you won’t reach the internet and expose your actual IP address. Avast SecureLine VPN does not hamper the speed of the connection. On the contrary, it acts as a catalyst and boosts the connection speed.
Sandbox is a virtualization tool that gives you a safe environment where you can browse the web or run apps without the risk of catching a virus. If you downloaded an application from a random website rather than using an authorized marketplace, it might be a good idea to run it in a separate environment preventing your computer from being damaged. It’s a great tool that is quite unique to Avast. It’s only available with Avast Premium and Omni.
If you have ever formatted a hard drive, you know that it doesn’t actually remove all the clutter. Some files remain on hard drives, and by using the recovery tool, anyone can access those files. That’s where Avast’s Data Shredder tool comes in handy. It overwrites the existing files with vague ones, and through this method, it will be impossible for any recovery tool to get your deleted files.
During the COVID pandemic, the demand for video calling has increased a lot. Unfortunately, video calling is also one of the routes through which malware can access your computer’s Webcam and compromise your privacy. Avast provides Webcam Shield for premium users that block the malware and prevent untrusted applications from taking the image or video without your permission.
The real Site feature prevents you from DNS hacking, which means it makes sure that you are reaching the actual website you were looking for, not one that just looks like it. Real Site encrypts your connection between the website’s IP address and yours to avoid back-end substation of the IP.
Avast Antivirus Lab Tests
AV-Comparatives is a reputable Australian cybersecurity lab that runs various tests on top antivirus software and puts together comprehensive reports on their performance, reliability, amount of false-positive results and so on. Avast has been one of the top products on the market for years.
According to AV-Comperitives latest Real-World Protection Test (February-May 2021), Avast was able to detect 735 out of 736 planted threats, which is better than great. To read the full report go here.
In the AV-Test Institute, the lab primarily focuses on protection, performance, and usability giving 6 points to each. In the protection and usability part, Avast got 6 points each, whereas, in the performance section, it got only 5.5. That means, in the AV-test, Avast secured 17.5 out of 18, and that’s an impressive score.
In the next test, Avast’s performance was outstanding, and it was based on the actions taken on the web attacks. This test was performed by SE lab, and it monitors the behavior of antivirus against malware. Based on antivirus performance, SE lab offers grading systems as AAA, AA, A, B, and C. Avast got AAA grading, which proves how efficient it is against malware.
So, aggregating all the scores based on the test result performed on the three labs, Avast got 9.9 points out of 10, and this score is an outstanding one.
Does Avast have enough security to stand out from the crowd?
Yes, Avast does have ample security features that make it stand out from the crowd. The avast’s test results are outstanding and it provides tons of advanced security features to maintain your privacy and security online.
The advanced layer of security technology decrypts the encrypted files affected due to ransomware. It also gives you real-time protection that means your computer is fully secured with Avast.
How much does it cost In 2021?
Avast has classified the products based on security as well as usage. Regarding PC’s security for home purposes, the products are Avast Premium Security and Avast Ultimate. The cost of the previous version is $39.99/year/device, and for ten devices, the price is $49.99/year, whereas the cost of the latter product (Avast Ultimate) is $69.99/year/device, and for ten devices it is $79.99/year.
Now, if you need Avast for business purposes, you have two options, and you can choose the one as per your business. The basic business plan for Avast antivirus is Small Office Protection, which will cost you $139.99/year.
However, if you go with the Endpoint Protection for Small Business plan, you need to choose the one as they are further classified in three ways. They are Avast Business Antivirus for $36.99/year, Avast Business Antivirus Pro for $46.99, and Avast Business Antivirus Pro Plus just for $56.99/year.
How much should you pay for Avast virus protection?
If you want to go with Avast Premium, then you will have to spend $34.99/year for a single PC that is Mac or Windows. However, to protect up to 10 multiple devices, it will cost you around $44.99 in a year.
Please note that you will not get SecureLine VPN, Cleanup, and AntiTrack features in the premium plan.
To get an absolute and comprehensive security feature to protect your device, you will have to move for Avast Ultimate. The Ultimate plan will cost you around $4 in a month and $50 a year for a single PC. At the same time, to protect more than ten devices with the Ultimate plan, you may need to pay around $5 per month and $60 per year.
The Ultimate protection plan is embedded with several advanced features, including SecureLine VPN, AntiTrack, and CleanUp Premium.
Can it slow down your PC?
Avast is at the top of the performance list (AV-Comparatives) and also received the Advanced Plus Three Star Award. The test has proven that running Avast on the computer will not hamper the speed.
The primary reasons behind the slow performance of computers are outdated software, old hardware, unnecessary software, adware, toolbars, and others. Besides, if you are using the older version of Avast, then make sure to update it to boost the computer speed.
Does it work for Mac?
Avast supports macOS and offers a layer of security features to block malware and stop ransomware. Avast believes that no device is immune against threats, and every device needs protection, including Mac.
Avast offers two premium packages for Mac users, i.e., Security for Mac and Premium Security for Mac. These packages safeguard Mac and also allow the users to secure their Privacy through VPN. Moreover, it also cleans the Mac and removes unwanted programs or applications.
Does Avast offer a mobile app?
Yes, Avast offers comprehensive security features for Mobiles, including Android and iOS. The stats of Avast on a mobile platform is an outstanding one, 100+ million users have downloaded this antivirus, and it got 4.7 stars in Google Play Store, making Avast extremely popular among mobile users.
It blocks all potential threats and suspicious applications on your mobile. Moreover, Avast also gives protection against ransomware, infected web links, and many more. If you go with the Premium or Ultimate package, you can secure your photos, videos, PIN code, and fingerprints. The bonus feature is the availability of a VPN, which means you can access any website without interference.
Avast retains worldwide branches to give customer support to the users so that they can access Avast efficiently. It includes blogs that provide all possible solutions for Avast products such as Activation & Installation, Refund request, and Sales & Billing. You will also get the forum to get the answer to any issue related to Avast. If you weren’t able to find a solution by yourself, you can contact support directly by email or phone.
Avast Antivirus Pros and Cons
- You can secure your computer with advanced security features free of cost.
- The test result has proven how efficient it is against viruses.
- The interface is smooth and user-friendly.
- Home Network Security feature protects the network from attackers and thus enables the users to perform the task efficiently.
- The home premium plan price is reasonable.
- If you need additional features, then you will have to pay for them.
- We didn’t like how many various add-ons and apps are installed with the Premium package, it’s kind of cluttering your computer.
- The business plan is a little bit expensive.
- The past data scandal issue has damaged the provider’s reputation, and it’s hard for the users to trust Avast.
Is it safe to use it as a security solution?
Avast is entirely safe to use as a security solution as it offers outstanding features to protect your computer. Moreover, it safeguards DNS, WI-FI, and many more so that you can do any task smoothly without worrying about malware attacks.
The real Wi-Fi security alert will give you a warning for potential threats that may attack your network. The ransomware shield will protect your files and folders from hackers. So, Avast is entirely safe, and you can use it as a full-on security solution.
If you are looking for alternatives to Avast, then you must focus on the lab test results. In the AV-Comparatives test, Bitdefender, ESET, and Kaspersky got good results, and they are in the Advanced+ category in which Avast lies.
If you go with the AV-test, Kaspersky is the first choice because it secured the top rank. So, compiling both the tests, Kaspersky is the perfect alternative for Avast.
Check out these questions and answers section related to Avast.