Avast review: How Complete Is This Antivirus Solution?

girl sitting behind her computer with avast logo on screen

avast-logoAvast is the antivirus program of one of the largest cybersecurity companies in the world. AVAST Software is based in Prague and develops various types of security software. They mainly focus on their (free) antivirus service, which is used by up to 400 million people worldwide. Another well-known antivirus solution produced by this company is AVG.

Of course, having such a large number of users does not necessarily mean that the software is any good. Does Avast protect you against most malware? Does it slow down your computer? How does the company deal with user privacy? In this review we will answer these and many other questions. We put both Avast Free and Avast Premium Security to the test. We conclude with a final mark that covers the whole Avast range so that you can compare Avast’s offer with other providers such as Avira, Kaspersky or Bitdefender.

What Requirements Must a Good Virus Scanner Meet?

A good antivirus program will help protect your online privacy and security. There are many cybersecurity companies, each offering their own virus scanner. How do you know which one to choose? There are a number of factors to take into consideration, which we cover in detail for every one of our antivirus reviews. Consider the various software packages and features, security, ease of use, speed and system load, and customer service.

In our review of Avast Antivirus, we considered every single one of the above-mentioned determining factors. Read our review to find out our verdict.

Avast’s Options

Avast Antivirus is more than just a program that removes viruses from your computer. It has many different options that will help keep your devices safe. Obviously, the free version of Avast does not have as many features as Avast Premium Security. Nonetheless, we thought it might be handy to briefly mention all the options.

Are you looking for a specific option or security measure? Take a look at the overview below. Is the feature you are looking for not mentioned in this list? Then Avast is probably not the right virus scanner for you.

Avast Free (Basic Functions) Avast Premium Security (Extra Functions)
Real-time protection against viruses and malware Advanced protection against ransomware
Virus scanner Protection against Fake websites and phishing
Advanced firewall to keep hackers out
Webcam protection
Protection of passwords stored in your browser
Detection of weak spots in Wi-Fi networks
Phone and photos protection in case of theft (Android)
Effectively deletes and shreds data
Automatic updates of apps and other software

Since Avast Premium Security is in fact a combination of previous Avast products, the package is very complete. While Avast’s older virus scanner lacked anti-ransomware protection, for example, Avast Premium Security offers protection against these types of threats.

Are you happy with Avast’s offer and want to buy a subscription straight away? Click on the button below to go to the Avast website.

Visit Avast

Ease of Use: How User-Friendly is Avast?

Avast is one of the best-known antivirus programs in the world. Because of its free version, many people have downloaded the software to protect their devices. Avast works on Windows and Mac as well as Android and iOS. In this section, we will tell you more about the user-friendliness of the Avast website, the installation process and the software itself.

Avast’s website

The Avast website is available in more than 50 languages. Avast offers several products and packages. These different products can be found in the menu at the top of the screen.

Avast’s home page mainly advertises Avast’s free antivirus software. You will immediately notice the bright orange button to download it. The paid version and Avast’s other products are not immediately visible. You will have to look in the menu or scroll further down.

Homepage Avast website

The Avast website is very clear and easy to navigate. The various products on offer are all introduced with a short informative text, download buttons and an indication of the price. There are also separate sections for home use, for businesses and for partners, so that every website visitor quickly knows where to go.

Installation process

Installing Avast Antivirus is very easy. The installation process is the same for the paid version and the free version. You can try Avast Premium Security for free for 30 days. As soon as you click “Download”, the installation file is downloaded. Next, you will see a screen with the various steps you need to go through to complete the installation.

Avast installation steps

Step-by-step instructions for the Windows installation process are provided below:

  1. From the main page of the Avast website, go to “Security” and then select “Premium Security”. If you prefer to install just the limited free version, choose “Free Antivirus”.
  2. Click the “Try this version free for 30 days” button at the top. The installation file will download automatically. For the free version, simply click on “Free Download”.
  3. Click the installation file to open it and then click “Yes” to begin installation. Wait for the program to load and the Avast Premium Security set-up screen to appear.
  4. Click on “Install”. If you do not want to download the extra Avast Secure Browser, you can untick the boxes at the bottom. The program will install in the background. This may take several minutes.
  5. Click on “Get started” to continue.
  6. Do you already have a subscription? Then click on “Activate” to enter your activation code. If you want to try the free 30-day trial first, click on “Start free trial”.
  7. You can now run your first scan to check your system for possible malware. Click on “Run first scan”.

In the end, installing the software took longer than expected. Instead of the usual one to two minutes, it took us at least 20 minutes. The reason for this was that we had to repeat the installation process several times, because the program did not open at first since the installation process was not completed correctly.

Avast’s antivirus software

After performing the first scan during installation, we were shown the dashboard. We tested Avast Premium Security on a Windows computer, but the software is also available for Mac, Android and iOS. At first glance, the dashboard seems to have a clear and uncluttered appearance.

The software is available in numerous languages. If you want to change the language from English to another language, you will have to first install your preferred languages. To do this, go to “Menu” and then “Settings”. Here you can add another language under “Languages”.

Avast Software

On the Avast Premium Security dashboard, you will see several tabs on the left. The most important one is “Status”. This tab is opened first by default. When your computer is protected, you will see the above screen.

The other tabs are “Protection”, “Privacy” and “Performance”. Each tab gives you different options for securing your system and improving your performance. Here, you can run virus scans, for example, update your software, or switch the webcam shield on or off. Some other options can be found under “Menu”. The main difference between Avast Premium Security and the free version of Avast is the number of options available to you.

Many different options available in Avast’s software

Avast offers many different options and features that can all be found within the software. Although this results in a nice all-in-one package, it unfortunately also means that the dashboard is quite cluttered. Before you can enable a specific feature, you must first find out where this option might be hidden. So, while the basic functions are immediately visible on the “Status” screen, additional options are more difficult to access. A novice user might have problems with this.

Another disadvantage is that you have so many scan and test options that you can hardly see the wood for the trees. After one scan to solve a certain issue, you are immediately advised to start the next scan. Before you know it, you are taken to a screen asking you to choose between different paid plans for services not included in Avast Premium Security, such as AntiTrack Premium, Cleanup Premium and Driver Updater. To purchase all these products at once, you need the Avast Ultimate package.

Avast’s installation and website are easy to work with. The dashboard, on the other hand, offers numerous options and is therefore somewhat cluttered. However, we still give Avast an 8.0 for ease of use because of the large number of features and its extensive and automated software.

Security: How Safe is Avast?

Security is of course the most important feature of a virus scanner. Can Avast keep your computer safe from Trojans, malware attacks and spyware? How effective is the virus scanner? These are the kind of questions we will answer in this section.

The main difference between the free and premium versions of Avast is that the free version only protects you against viruses, spyware and other similar threats. Thus, with the free version, other forms of online dangers, such as ransomware, phishing and hackers, are still able to get through. Therefore, if you prefer optimal security, you are better off with Avast’s paid option.

Numerous security options

Avast Premium Security offers all kinds of scans, shields and inspections to keep your system safe while browsing the web. In addition to various virus scans, Avast also has various shields to keep your files safe and stop cyberattacks. All viruses found are stored in a “safe”, where they cannot cause any damage.

Avast options software

Avast also offers a solid firewall. This firewall ensures that no malicious programs can enter your computer via the internet. Therefore, hackers will have a much harder time accessing your systems.

In addition to protection against malware, Avast also offers a number of extra features. A webcam shield, for example, to prevent criminals from spying on you via your webcam. You can also protect your data and even “shred” old documents to delete them safely. In short, Avast has a very complete offer to protect you against online threats in almost every possible way.

Real-time security network

Avast has a network of more than 400 million users. According to Avast, their software stops approximately 66 million threats per day. In some respects the popularity of Avast is a big advantage. Their gigantic network is constantly exchanging information about the latest threats and viruses, for example. This keeps all Avast users safe from the malware that only one of them has faced.

Security score

List with magnifying glassTo test the safety of Avast, we took a closer look at the AV-Comparatives review. This platform examines the security of various antivirus solutions. The results for Avast were very positive.

AV-comparatives tested several aspects, namely the percentage of malware that was successfully blocked, the percentage of malware that was able to compromise the system, as well as the number of false positives – these are clean files that the virus scanner sees as risky.

Avast performed very well in all tests. The virus scanner was able to block 99.7% of all malware used in the test. So, only 0.3% of the malware managed to get through the virus scanner. On average, about 0.48% of malware can bypass virus scanners undetected, giving Avast an above average score. Also, Avast only generated 8 false positives. This is slightly below the average of 8.28.

All in all, Avast performs very well in terms of security. The software offers numerous options and works effectively against viruses. However, because it turned out that Avast resells data to third parties, unfortunately we felt compelled to drop the final score in terms of security from 9.0 to 8.0.

Privacy and Avast

Both the free and paid versions of Avast Antivirus collect various kinds of information about users. Some of this data is required for the software to function properly, while other data is collected for analysis or future product development purposes.

The personal data that Avast collects can be divided into two categories, service information and device information. Avast’s privacy policy sums it up as follows:

Service information:

  • Identifier of delivered content
  • IP-address
  • Malware samples
  • Detections
  • URL’s and referrers
  • Events and product use

Device information

  • Internet online identifiers, incl. device ID
  • Information about your computer or device
  • Location
  • Applications (incl. other security software and other Avast products)
  • Internet and connection (incl. network information and number of devices on the same network)

Most of the data that Avast collects is used to ensure the smooth operation of their services. Malware samples and virus detections, for example, are used to make their antivirus software as effective as possible. If one user encounters a problem, the same problem can then easily be avoided by other users, which is to everyone’s benefit.

Yet other kinds of information are less vital. Avast claims, for example, that they need to know your location to display their software in the correct language. Nevertheless, we had to separately install other languages if we wanted to change the language to a language other than English.

Avast sold data to third parties

In January 2020, a joint investigation by PCMag and Motherboard revealed that Avast indirectly sold user data to other parties. Avast had not been dealing with companies such as Google, Yelp and Microsoft directly, but used a subsidiary called Jumpshot.

In this way, Avast passed on a lot of specific information to other parties. This information included Google searches, user locations, YouTube videos, LinkedIn pages, and porn websites users had visited. This sensitive information was collected from more than 100 million devices, which was then resold.

In actual fact, users could indicate in their settings whether or not they wanted to participate in this data collection. Yet many Avast users were unaware that this data was subsequently being sold and unknowingly opted in. In other words, Avast was not transparent about the process and did not sufficiently monitor user privacy.

Meanwhile, Avast has confirmed that they no longer sell user data. Nonetheless, the trust in Avast has been seriously damaged. Many users, including us, were shocked when they heard the news. Given the lack of transparency and the incident’s recency, it has seriously affected our score. We give Avast a 3 for privacy.

Speed & Performance: How Well Does Avast Work?

Virus scanners can slow down your computer considerably. These programs are designed to keep your system safe, and this can consume a lot of energy. That is why it is important to have an idea of the effect that a certain antivirus program will have on your computer’s speed.

Avast allows you to perform different types of scans. In this section, we specifically looked at the “smart”, quick virus scan and the full scan. We also looked at what the effect was of running Avast Antivirus in the background.

Avast’s system load

Avast Antivirus takes up between 0 and 0.5% of the CPU’s resources while running in the background. When you are browsing, this sometimes goes up to 2 – 3%. In other words, you will not have any issues if you perform normal, every-day online activities.

A quick scan, referred to by Avast as the “smart scan”, increases the CPU usage to about 20 – 30%. Yet, a smart scan will only take a few minutes, so the effect of this scan on your speed will be minimal. However, this is more due to the short duration of the scan than due to the actual CPU usage.

The system load is a lot higher with the full scan. Although the scan ran quite quickly and took just 15 minutes, the CPU usage went up considerably. The “Avast Service” process asked about 30 – 40% of our computer’s CPU resources. At the start of the scan, this was slightly less as it hovered around 20%. At a later point in the scan, it reached 45% and continued to fluctuate from there. The effect was that the overall system load was often around 70 or 80%, with regular peaks up to 100%.

cpu-usage-full-scan-avast-antivirus

Avast thus has a significant impact on the speed of your system. The system load, on the other hand, is not bad, if you consider the average CPU-usage during a full scan was about 30-40% in our case. And the scans are relatively fast. However, this depends on the number of files on your computer. Since Avast does not provide an overview of the number of files that have been scanned, it is difficult to compare. After the scan, we only received the message “No malware found”.

After this speed test, we decided to give Avast a 6.5 for speed and performance.

Price

Avast has two different plans: Avast Free and Avast Premium Security. The free version, Avast Free, will cost you nothing. You can download this version from this page. Do you want the full protection and extra features of the paid version? Then you have two options.

Avast Prices

The first package will cost you $69.99 per year (full price) and can be used on one device. You can try this version for free for 30 days. You will have to choose between PC, Mac, Android or iPhone/iPad to download the correct version.

The second package costs $89.99 per year (full price) and can be installed on up to ten devices simultaneously. Unlike the subscription for one device, you do not have to indicate what kind of operating system you are using. You can use this subscription on PC, Mac, Android and iOS.

By the way, choosing the full package does not mean that you can use all of Avast’s services. If you want to use Avast Secureline VPN, Cleanup Premium or Driver Updater you will have to pay extra, even with the Premium Security package. If you want all these options at once, then the best option is to go for Avast Ultimate. This bundle is available from $99 per year.

Differences between the free and paid version

There are quite a few differences between the free and the paid version of Avast. Avast Premium Security gives you more options and better complete protection. Both versions include real-time scans and software that can block viruses, spyware and many other malware threats.

However, Avast Premium Security has a lot more to offer. The following extra options are not included in the free version: protection against ransomware, fake websites and phishing; an advanced firewall; webcam protection; password protection; Wi-Fi network protection; and automatic updates.

So, while the free version of Avast can certainly be considered as a decent standard virus scanner that will stop various threats, the premium version offers many more advanced options. In this way, your computer is not only protected against viruses and malware. Your webcam, passwords and other software are also no longer as vulnerable.

Avast’s Customer Service

There are several ways you can ask Avast for help if you encounter a problem. On the official website, click “Support” at the very top of the screen to access the correct section of the website. Here you can find numerous FAQs and other textual support.

As with the software itself, there are many options you can choose from, which makes the page a bit cluttered. First, you can choose between four different topics that your problem could be related to: “Installation and activation”, “Refund request”, “Unsubscribe” and “Sales and billing”. If you click on one of these topics, you will be taken to the respective FAQ page.

Avast support center

At the bottom of the support page you will find additional information about all the different Avast products. Simply click on your product and you will find more frequently asked questions and manuals.

If you still cannot figure it out, you can contact the support team. First, you will need to indicate what kind of product you use and whether you want to be helped via chat or e-mail. Enter your details – including your first and last name, e-mail address and order ID – and send your question.

The chat function was not available at the time of testing. A message appeared stating that we would receive an e-mail answering our question, while we actually ticked the box “chat”. It took several days for the e-mail to arrive. Avast also asked us for proof of payment. In it, they asked for further proof that we were using the paid version of Avast. For users of Avast Free it is even more difficult to reach customer service and get questions answered. For this reason, we give Avast a 6.5 for customer service.

Review: Our Experience with Avast Antivirus

Advantages Disadvantages
Avast offers a very complete antivirus package with tons of useful safety options and features. Even when using the “premium security” version, some extra features require you to pay additional charges.
The free version already offers a very good level of protection. Avast has sold user data in the past to third parties.
Installing Avast is a very easy and straightforward process. Avast’s customer service is not the fastest in responding to users’ queries.

Here are Avast’s scores for each component:

  • Security: 8.0
  • Speed and system load: 6.5
  • Privacy: 3
  • Software and features: 8.0
  • Customer service: 6.5
  • Final score: 7.6

Are you convinced of the qualities of Avast and want to take out a subscription straight away? Or do you just want more information? Then click on the button below to visit the Avast website.

Visit Avast
Avast Antivirus - FAQs

Do you have a question about Avast Free or Avast Premium Security? Below, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about this antivirus program. Simply click a question to read the answer.

Avast offers two different subscriptions: Avast Free and Avast Premium Security. Avast Free is their unpaid version, which will costs you absolutely nothing. Avast Premium Security is a paid plan, which allows you to choose between two packages. A package for one computer costs $39,99 for the first year and $69,99 for every subsequent year. A package for multiple (up to 10) devices costs $49,99 for the first year and $89,99 for every subsequent year.

You can remove Avast from your device by following these steps:

  • Go to your settings and open your program list. To do this on Windows, click the Windows icon in the bottom left corner of your screen, then click the cogwheel, and then “Apps”.
  • Look for Avast Antivirus in the list of programs and click “Uninstall”.
  • Click “Uninstall” again when the confirmation pop-up appears.
  • Follow the steps to confirm once again that you want to uninstall the program.

The uninstallation of Avast may take a few minutes. If this doesn’t work, you could also try to use avastclear. This is Avast’s uninstall utility.

In addition to its paid version (Avast Premium Security), Avast Antivirus also has a free version. This free version, Avast Free, has fewer options than the paid version, but is an excellent standard antivirus tool that can stop many online threats. Read more about both the free and the paid version of Avast Antivirus here.

IT communication specialist
Sandra has many years of experience in the IT and tech sector as a communication specialist. She's also been co-director of a company specializing in IT, editorial services and communications project management. For VPNoverview.com she follows relevant cybercrime and online privacy developments.