Avast is a popular antivirus that has a free and premium version. The free version offers basic protection to your devices in the form of a virus scanner and real-time protection against malware and other threats. The paid premium version offers a lot more:
- Ransomware protection
- Wi-Fi network security
- Phishing alerts
- and much more
The premium version starts at $69.99 per year for a single device.
Avast scores pretty well in protecting you and your devices from threats such as viruses and malware. Avast is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
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Avast is a Czech firm that’s one of the biggest providers of antivirus software other cybersecurity solutions. It has over 430 million monthly active users and also owns AVG. But is Avast any good at protecting you from malware and other threats? After all, having a large user base doesn’t necessarily mean that the software is effective. In fact, Avast was caught selling user browsing data to advertisers in 2020.
We’ve reviewed Avast on multiple criteria, from its features and ease of use to speed, customer service, and of course, security and privacy. We put both Avast Free Antivirus and Avast Premium Security to the test, and here are our findings.
Avast Pricing and Packages
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 doesn’t have as many features as the paid one. Here’s a quick overview:
|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|
|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|
As for pricing, Avast has two different plans: Avast Free and Avast Premium Security. Avast Free Antivirus will cost you nothing. You can download this version from this page.
For premium protection, you have two options:
The first package will cost you $34.99 for the first year and $69.99 for every subsequent year (full price). This package can be used on one device. You will have to choose between PC, Mac, Android, or iPhone/iPad to download the correct version.
The second package costs $44.99 for the first year and $89.99 for every subsequent year (full price). This package can be installed simultaneously on up to ten devices. Unlike the subscription for one device, you don’t have to indicate what kind of operating system you’re using. You can use this subscription on PC, Mac, Android, and iOS.
You can also try the premium version for free for 60 days.
Do you want to make the most of the offer and check out Avast Premium Security right away? Then click on the button below to go to the Avast website.
However, choosing the full package doesn’t mean that you can use all of Avast’s services. If you want extra features, such as Avast Secureline VPN, Cleanup Premium, or Driver Updater, you’ll have to pay extra, even with the Premium Security package. In that case, the best option is to go for Avast Ultimate. This bundle is available for $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 Antivirus Software. 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.
Avast Premium Security gives you more options and more complete protection. The following extra options aren’t 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, but your webcam, passwords, and other software are also no longer as vulnerable.
Ease of Use: How User-Friendly is Avast?
Avast is one of the most well-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. This section will tell you more about the user-friendliness of the Avast website, the installation process, and the software itself.
The Avast site is available in over 50 languages. The homepage prominently advertises Avast’s free antivirus software. You will immediately notice the button to download it. The paid version and Avast’s other products aren’t immediately visible. For those, you’ll have to look in the menu or scroll further down.
The Avast website is self-explanatory 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, businesses, and partners so that every website visitor quickly knows where to go.
Installing Avast Antivirus Software is pretty easy. The installation process is the same for the paid version and the free version. After you pay and complete the download, you’ll see a screen with the various steps you need to complete the installation.
Step-by-step instructions for the Windows installation process are provided below:
- On the homepage, go to “Security” and then select “Premium Security.” If you prefer to install just the limited free version, choose “Free Antivirus.”
- Choose the plan for either one device or ten devices and click “Buy Now.” Alternatively, you can click “Start Free Trial for 60 Days.” Follow the on-screen instructions to complete your payment and download the software. For the free version, simply click on “Free Download.”
- Click the installation file to open it and then click “Yes” to begin the installation. Wait for the program to load and the Avast Premium Security set-up screen to appear.
- 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.
- Click on “Get started” to continue.
- Do you already have a subscription? Then click on “Activate” to enter your activation code. If you want to try the free trial, click on “Start free trial.”
- You can now run your first scan to check your system for possible threats. 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. This was because we had to repeat the installation process several times because the program didn’t open at first. This was a bit disappointing to see in a security program.
Avast Antivirus interface
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’ll first have to install your preferred languages. To do this, go to “Menu” and then “Settings.” Here you can add another language under “Languages.”
On the left side of the Avast Premium Security dashboard, you’ll see several tabs. The most important one is “Status.” This tab is opened first by default. When your computer is protected, you’ll see the screen pictured above.
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, 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 is the number of available options.
Avast Antivirus features
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 enabling 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’re immediately advised to start the next scan. Before you know it, you’re 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, 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, other forms of online dangers, such as ransomware, phishing, and hackers, may still get through with the free version. 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 can’t cause any damage.
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 offers several extra features. These include 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 get rid of them safely. In short, Avast has a 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.
To test the safety of Avast, we took a closer look at the AV-Comparatives review. This platform examines the security of various antivirus protection solutions, and the results for Avast were quite 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, and 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.
- Identifier of delivered content
- Malware samples
- URL’s and referrers
- Events and product use
- Internet online identifiers, incl. device ID
- Information about your computer or device
- 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 its services. For example, malware samples and virus detections 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. Even so, we had to separately install other languages if we wanted to change the language to one 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. That is, it did not deal directly with companies such as Google, Yelp, and Microsoft 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 and then resold.
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. Given the lack of transparency and the incident’s recency, this has seriously affected our score. As a result, we give Avast a 3 for privacy.
Speed & Performance: How Well Does Avast Work?
Virus scanners can slow down your computer considerably. This is because these programs are designed to keep your system safe, which can consume a lot of energy. That’s why it’s important to understand the effect that antivirus protection will have on your computer’s speed.
Avast allows you to perform different types of scans. We specifically looked at the “smart,” quick virus scan, and the full scan for this section. We also looked at the effect 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. However, when you are browsing, this sometimes goes up to 2 – 3%. In other words, you will not have any issues if you perform regular, everyday 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%.
Avast thus has a significant impact on the speed of our system. On the other hand, the system load is not bad if you consider the average CPU usage during a full scan was about 30-40% in our case. Moreover, the scans are relatively fast, although this mostly depends on the number of files on your computer. Since Avast doesn’t provide an overview of the number of files that have been scanned, it’s 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.
Avast Customer Service
There are several ways you can ask Avast for help if you encounter a problem. To get started, go to the official website and 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.
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’ll find more frequently asked questions and manuals.
If your question still hasn’t been answered, you can contact the support team. First, you’ll 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. In it, they asked for further proof that we were using the paid version of Avast. It’s even more difficult for users of Avast Free to reach customer service and get questions answered. For this reason, we give Avast a 6.5 for customer service.
Final Verdict: Should You Get Avast?
Whether or not we’d recommend Avast depends on your own needs and preferences. We’ve shared our experience with you, and here’s a summary of the pros and cons of Avast Security.
|Avast offers a complete antivirus package with tons of useful safety options and features.||Some additional features require you to pay extra even when using the “premium security” version.|
|The free version offers a commendable level of protection.||Avast has sold user data in the past to third parties.|
|Installing Avast is a straightforward process.||Avast’s customer service is not the fastest in responding to users’ queries.|
Here’s how Avast scored on each aspect we tested, on a scale of 1 to 10:
- Security: 8.0
- Speed and system load: 6.5
- Privacy: 3
- Software and features: 8.0
- Customer service: 6.5
- Final score: 7.6
If you’re ready to download this software or just want some more information, click the button below to visit the Avast website. If you have further questions or thoughts about it, feel free to leave us a comment below.
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 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.
Avast is one of the most well-known antivirus and security solutions. Although it was caught selling user data in 2020, it’s still a safe and effective cybersecurity tool. However, due to the lack of trust we now have in Avast when it comes to privacy, we do advise you to be careful with this antivirus program.