Avast is undoubtedly one of the world’s most popular antivirus providers, with the company boasting 435 million monthly active users.
However, earlier this year, Avast was caught selling highly sensitive web browsing data from 100 million of its customers to third party companies. And although it’s since put a stop to this practice, we can’t help but feel that this isn’t a company that puts the privacy of its customers first.
But, unlike many antivirus packages, Avast does come with a free option (Avast Free Antivirus). And the software is very simple to set up and use. So, let’s have a look at how Avast stacks up in our in-depth review of Avast’s antivirus software.
|Rating:||4.0||Price:||from $34.99/year, 1 PC|
|Free version:||Yes||Platforms:||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS|
Avast Antivirus pros & cons
- You don’t have to pay anything to use it
- It comes with lots of useful features
- It performs well in independent lab tests
- It’s really easy to download and navigate
- You have to pay extra for a lot of features
- Big business plans are very expensive
- Avast has been known to leak user data in the past
How safe is Avast Antivirus?
Naturally, if you’re looking for good antivirus software, you’re probably quite security conscious. And considering Avast was forced to admit to selling user data last year, it’s reasonable to wonder just how safe Avast actually is.
Well, as part of our review, we’ve taken a close look at Avast’s security measures to help you decide whether or not to install the software.
Independent Avast antivirus testing
Like a lot of industry-leading antivirus providers, Avast pays to have its products included in tests done by independent labs.
Possibly the most well-known one is AV-Comparatives. In its latest real-world protection report dated July-August 2020, Avast blocked 99.7% of the widespread malicious samples used in the test. And although this sounds pretty near perfect, there were several antivirus providers that did better. F-Secure, G DATA, Panda, and Trend Macro managed to block 100% of the malware tested.
And in its Malware protection test dated September 2020, AV-Comparatives found that Avast managed to protect against 100% of online threats. Offline, it managed to detect 92% of threats. It also yielded 10 false alarms. Which isn’t fantastic, but a lot better than the staggering 114 flagged by Panda.
Judging by AV-Comparatives test results, Avast isn’t quite as secure as some others, but it’s definitely up there among the best. And it’s one of the most secure free antivirus offerings on the market at the moment.
Avast Antivirus features
What features does Avast use to keep your machine safe from viruses? Well, as you’d expect, you get what you pay for, with the Premium plan coming with a lot more features than the free version.
So what are these features? And are they worth paying for? Let’s take a closer look.
Avast Free Antivirus features
Avast’s free plan comes with all the basic functions and features you’d associate with antivirus software. Which, considering so many people subscribe to paid options, like Kaspersky or Norton 360, this shows that you can get a good level of protection without necessarily having to pay for it.
And on top of all the regular features, Avast’s free offering also comes with some very handy extras that make this option even more tempting. Here, we’ll break them all down to help you decide if the free version is the right option for you.
Let’s start with the basics. Avast’s virus scans are quick and easy to do. And not only do they flag up any issues on your machine, they also allow you to fix any issues with the click of a button.
The virus scan does 3 things:
- Updates the virus definitions to make sure you’re not missing new threats
- Scans for viruses and malware
- Seeks out advanced issues
While my Mac passed the malware scan with no issues, it did flag three advanced issues. These was a vulnerability to fake websites, lax security with my Wi-Fi network and two folders that were vulnerable to advanced ransomware.
However, if you want any advanced issues fixing, you have to fork out for the Premium plan before Avast will resolve them for you.
For more basic issues, all you need to do is hit the Resolve Now button and Avast will fix it for you.
Again, this is hardly a revolutionary feature for antivirus software. But it’s still important to discuss. And Avast’s malware protection comes with:
- Real-time protection that runs silently in the background to block threats as they appear in an unobtrusive yet effective way.
- Complete malware detection that stops you from sharing infected files with other users.
- In-depth scans of your entire machine or device that’s designed to root out hidden malware.
- Removable drive scans to check external drives, such as CDs, DVDs, USB sticks, etc. for viruses.
- Custom scans on specific files or folders for faster, targeted scans.
- Scheduled Scans so it can check for malware while you’re away from your desk.
- Security reports that provide you with personalised updates every 30 days.
- Real-time security updates and new features which are updated automatically.
Compatibility on different platforms
The fact that Avast is available on all the major platforms is a definite plus. You can use it on Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux, and Android. And, to make things wonderfully simple, the site can tell what platform you’re using and tailors all your results on the website to make sure you’re getting the most relevant information for you.
I tested the software on Mac, and as soon as I’d downloaded the software, every page I visited on the Avast website automatically redirected to the Mac version. So I could view all the information specific to the type of machine and operating system I was using.
Avast’s free offering scans your entire Wi-Fi network and all the devices connected to it to find any vulnerabilities. This works to prevent hackers from stealing your personal data through your Wi-Fi network.
Avast also provides a decent level of email security with its free version. It alerts you to any unsafe websites, blocks suspicious downloads, prevents dangerous email attachments and stops intrusive web tracking. And as email is one of the most common ways of getting a computer virus, it’s a really useful feature that weeds out a lot of potential threats.
Avast Premium features
While Avast’s free plan comes with all the basic security features to protect from malware, viruses and other online threats, the Premium version boasts a couple of key additions that can make a big difference to your online safety. But are they worth paying for? Let’s find out.
Real-time Wi-Fi security alerts
Although the free version offers Wi-Fi protection, the Premium plan goes a step further and alerts you in real time to any potential threats to your network. This means that you get alerted as soon as someone joins your Wi-Fi network.
So if you have an annoying neighbour who regularly slows your Wi-Fi speeds to a crawl by streaming videos on your network or you just want to make sure you’re alerted to any potential hackers as soon as they access your Wi-Fi, it might be worth upgrading to the premium plan.
Another important feature included in the Premium plan is a ransomware shield. This protects your files and photos from ransomware attacks. So no one will be able to change, modify or encrypt your documents without your permission.
Avast for business features
Avast’s business plans come with a range of solutions depending on the size and needs of your business. Need help deciding whether one of these plans might be right for you? Here’s a breakdown of Avast’s business offerings.
Avast’s Small Office plan features
As you might expect from the name, Avast’s Small Office plan is ideal for all manner of small businesses. Avast lets you customise your plan so you’re getting the protection that best suits your business needs.
Here are all the features included in the Small Office plan:
- Up to 10 devices can be used on the small business account.
- Multi-OS support means that, no matter what devices you choose to work on, Avast will be able to support it, even if it’s a mixture of Mac, iOS, Windows and Android devices.
- Business-grade customer support offers 24-hour help from trained engineers, who can assist you via email, chat, or phone.
- Ransomware shield keeps your sensitive files, documents and photos safe from ransomware attacks.
- Remote access shield blocks unwanted remote connections.
- Web shield checks URLs and certificates to ensure they’re completely safe before a network connection is made.
- Email shield constantly checks incoming and outgoing emails for malware.
- File shield scans files, URLs, and email attachments to prevent malware and ransomware.
- Wi-Fi inspector looks for weaknesses in your network that might be putting you at risk and fixes them for you.
- Real site keeps you and your employees safe from fake sites designed to steal sensitive data.
- The sandbox provides a safe environment to test new programs and files in an area that’s completely separated from the rest of your PC.
- The customisable firewall filters network traffic and stops untrusted connections.
- Sensitive data shield stops spyware from accessing sensitive documents on your computer.
- Webcam shield stops webcam spying without your permission by making apps request access to your webcam before it’s turned on.
- Data shredder permanently deletes any confidential files that contain financial or customer data you don’t wouldn’t want recovered.
- Phishing net uses Avast’s cloud database to protect your business from even the most recent phishing sites.
Avast Businesses features
If the Small Office plan isn’t big enough for you, Avast’s Businesses plan might be a better option for you and your company. This upgrade suits any business that has anywhere between 11 and 1,000 employees. You pay per device too, so you only ever fork out for the number of devices you want to protect.
It comes with all the excellent security features included in the Small Office plan, along with a few important extras designed to help bigger businesses, such as:
- Cloud backup ensures your files are safe, secure and accessible wherever you are.
- Patch management identifies and deploys critical security patches and monitors ongoing activity from Avast’s central cloud management dashboard.
- Secure web gateway prevents malicious downloads and URLs from entering your network.
- Next-gen endpoint protection in CloudCare blocks malware, spyware, ransomware, and other threats to your business.
Avast’s Advanced protection plan for MSSPs and resellers
If you’re looking for comprehensive antivirus software for a reseller or a managed security service provider (MSSP), Avast’s all-in-one solution has a lot to offer.
The main attraction here is CloudCare, which, as you might imagine, delivers all of Avast’s security features through the cloud on a user-friendly platform.
Here’s what CloudCare does:
- Lets you grow your MSSP while increasing your revenue and building your business. Avast’s CloudCare solution gives MSSPs a simple way to scale business, add new services, and deploy security remotely to new customers.
- Fills the gaps in your security with CloudCare’s essential layers of security to defend your business from threats.
- Manages multiple networks easily by viewing threats, updates and reports for your customers in one central place.
- Helps you avoid rising costs and upkeep for clients, which helps you reduce onsite client visits to save you money and time.
How much does Avast Antivirus package cost?
Avast’s pricing strategy is actually pretty reasonable. As we’ve mentioned, Avast offers a free version that comes with all the basic security features. If this doesn’t suit your needs, Avast’s Premium plan or business packages might be what you’re looking for.
Note, however, that Avast uses regional price discrimination. The pricing given here applies to US users, but might not apply elsewhere. For example, the prices are significantly higher in the UK.
Avast’s pricing for individual accounts
If you’re looking for antivirus security for your home PC or smartphone, you can choose between Avast’s Free plan and its Premium offering.
The Free plan offers the basics: real-time malware protection, malicious website/intrusive tracker blocking, and wifi scanning. For $69.99 a year, Avast Premium adds real-time wifi security alerts and the Ransomware Shield. Finally, for $89.99 a year, you get the Premium offering for up to 10 devices.
Avast’s business pricing
As we mentioned earlier, Avast has a range of security packages for businesses, depending on how many employees a company has and whether or not they’re an MSSP.
Here’s how much they cost:
Avast’s Small Office plan pricing
Avast’s Small Office plan normally retails at $139.99 a year. But right now, you can get it for just $111.99 for the year.
This buys you licences for up to 10 devices and comes with all the great Small Office security features detailed above.
Avast’s all-in-one business plan pricing
If the Small Office plan isn’t sufficient, you can opt for Avast’s all-in-one business plan. All you need to do is select how many users you’ve got and which operating systems they use. Prices are as follows:
- Windows: $59.99 a year per user
- Server: $46.99 a year per user
- Mac: $36.00 a year per user
- Linux: $259.99 a year per user
Avast’s advanced all-in-one business plan for MSSPs pricing
If you’re looking to sign up for Avast’s Advanced plan, you’ll need to get in touch with them directly to discuss your security requirements. The team will then come up with a pricing package based on your needs.
Avast secure browser
Avast’s secure browser used to be a paid-for service until 2016 when the security company began bundling it with the free version of its antivirus software.
The browser is incredibly easy to set up and use and comes with a lot of great features, including:
- Ad-free browsing that blocks online ads by default. This can significantly improve website loading times.
- Built-in privacy lets you browse, shop, and bank safely online.
- Blocks malicious websites and downloads to protect your device from potential threats.
- Blocks online tracking to stop third parties seeing your online activity.
- Masks your digital identity so websites can’t identify you based on your unique browser profile.
- Monitors your email address to make sure your passwords haven’t been leaked online.
Avast’s secure browser takes seconds to download and has a lovely clean interface that’s very similar to Google Chrome. It even has Google open by default. So you can complete searches just as quickly and easily as you would if you were using Chrome.
What’s more, because it automatically blocks ads, browsing the internet feels cleaner and quicker than it does on less secure browsers. And the steps Avast has taken to mask the identities of its users gives you added peace of mind when you’re surfing the web.
Ease of use
Avast’s antivirus software is one of the easiest programs you’ll ever use. If anything, it makes it rather too easy to get the free version. There are big green Sign up here buttons on every single webpage. And all you need to do is click on one of these and it’ll automatically begin downloading the software onto your machine. Before you even know it or feel like you’ve agreed to it, you’re already a customer of the free plan.
Of course, if you want to sign up for the paid plan, you’ll have to input your card details first. But even then, you can find yourself on the payment screen within one click of the homepage.
However disconcerting this may seem, this certainly ticks the box for ease of use. The software downloads in seconds. And as soon as it’s up and running, it can begin doing virus scans on your machine.
If it identifies a threat, you can simply click to resolve them. However, if it identifies any advanced issues, the Resolve button will simply redirect you to a payment screen so you can upgrade to the Premium plan. Which feels a little sneaky. Still, it still offers more than adequate protection for a free service.
Avast offers a basic level of customer service, including an extensive area of helpful FAQs to help users resolve their own issues.
But if you want more help than that, you can subscribe to Avast Care, which offers a lot more features, including 24/7 support and remote access troubleshooting. It also includes remote virus and spyware removal and 24/7 phone and remote access support. This plan costs $39.99 for the year and promises to help you fix any issues you may be struggling with.
Here, we’ll answer some of your burning FAQs about Avast to help you decide if this is the right antivirus software for you.
Is Avast antivirus safe?
Although it provides a decent level of basic protection against malware, earlier this year, it transpired that Avast had been selling highly sensitive web browsing data to some of the world’s biggest companies.
This was all done through its marketing technology subsidiary, Jumpshot, which collected browsing data on as many as 100 million devices. Some of Jumpshot’s clients paid millions of dollars for products that included an “All Clicks Feed,” which accurately tracks user behaviour, clicks and movement across the web without customers’ knowledge or consent.
While Avast seems to have put this behind them, it does call into question just how safe it is to use Avast products.
Is Avast a good antivirus solution?
On the whole, yes. Avast provides a decent level of security protection. The free version comes with lots of features, although it doesn’t protect against ransomware. If you want premium protection, you’ll have to upgrade to one of the paid-for options.
Is Avast completely free?
Yes. The free version will cost you absolutely nothing. It’ll provide you with a basic level of security without costing you a penny. However, if you want more sophisticated protection for your computer, there are lots of paid options that come with more features and better customer support.