Free Avast antivirus review: can Avast compete with the big boys?

Free Avast antivirus review: can Avast compete with the big boys?

Posted 07.13.2012 in News by Angela

Avast Antivirus (“avast!® Be free” proclaims their site logo), cites itself as the world's most popular antivirus, being used on over 150 million devices today. They declare they make “no compromises in terms of protection”  and say they outperform even paid-for products. Is Avast all that it cracks itself up to be? Actually, it might just be. Avast has become a globally successful antivirus, its statistics speaking for itself when it comes to how many people use it, its specifications, and the awards and certifications it has received. 

Avast is headquartered in the Czech Republic, and has its roots in 1988 when the founder, Pavel Baudis, created a program to remove the Vienna Virus. Due to the nature of the government under the Soviet Union and its regulations in the Czechoslovakia at the time, the site states that he and his fellow colleague and future co-founder were initially unable to create a company, although they released the first version of the antivirus. Since then, Avast has only grown larger and more successful, becoming one of the first antivirus programs to win Virus Bulletin's VB100 awards in all testing categories, and launching a free Avast antivirus in 2001. Landmarks reached since then include 2004, when the company's user base doubled twice—first to 10 million, then 20. In 2007, the company reached 40 million users, while Avast still employed only 38 people. As of July 2012, Avast is protecting 159,184,110 devices, has 208 employees from 27 different nations, and is used in 49 countries and over 1800 cities around the world. 

Currently, Avast Version 7 is available for Windows, Mac, and Android mobile devices. The free antivirus includes an engine to block viruses and spyware, and prevents stealth malware called “rootkits” with real-time protection, as well as a tool called “Remote” which enables assistance from friend or family members through the computer. There is also an Intelligent Scanner which reduces the number of required file scans to decrease the time and hassle spent on computer virus scans. The latest version also includes a file reputation feature, which uses data from the community database of dedicated Avast users to determine whether a file is safe, and a hybrid update technology sending new virus signatures through the Avast Virus Lab Cloud. This means fewer database updates and faster security updates. The file itself is 85.2 MB to download, and CNET reported its installation time as about three minutes.

AV-Comparative's 2011 report gave Avast very fast speed ratings in all areas, from installation to opening files to file copying, and so on. It received the Advanced+ award in the first half of the year from AV-Comparative. CNET Labs gave it a 40 second boot time and 6 second shutdown time, above the average of antivirus programs, meaning a fairly light impact on computer processing. In March 2012 CNET gave version 7 the distinction of Editor's Choice. 

Nevertheless, despite these accolades, Avast does have its shortcomings. Although the user interface is clean and functional, with easy-to-use visualization graphs and an easily navigable menu, the user must use custom installation to  opt out of the Windows desktop gadget and a browser add-on. One of these includes a detection rate that does not match up to Avira or other software that have over 99% detection rates. According to CNET, Avast received only a 95.6 to 97.5% detection rate, depending on user settings, in November of 2011. Tested again in March 2012, though, Avast proved itself to improve quickly, improving their rate to 98% with a low number of false positives in their latest release. Another downside is that the Remote feature Avast version 7 provides requires that the friend giving support has to have Avast.  

Essentially, Avast is a fast, well-performing virus software with a user base loyal to it for good reason. As a small company, it has managed to do extremely well for itself, protecting almost 160 million devices and utilizing the latest technology for fast performance and detection. It has shown itself to be quick at improving, developing more features and better performance with its releases. Avast is a cut above many of the other free antivirus products available. 

Login or create an account to post a comment

Related Articles

News Categories