Overall Score 89%

Avast Box
Avast Security Software

The Case for Avast

  • Same virus protection as Avast Antivirus plus extra security
  • In business 24 years (1991)
  • Good overall malware protection
  • Poor technical support
  • Decent resource usage
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Made in the Czech Republic
  • Costa Rica phone tech support
$49.99
(1-PC / 1-Year)
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by Kevin R. Smith, Co-Editor
Virus & Spyware Protection: 89%

Avast did a pretty good job with both real-time malware protection and malware removal.

We first loaded Avast Internet Security onto our test PC. After which, we put multiple malware sets (viruses, adware, rogueware, trojans, etc.) onto each.

Then we activated Avast and ran a full-system scans on each computer to gauge Avast's detection and virus removal against these varied threats.

Early into some of the scans, Avast prompted us to do a boot scan, which we did.

In doing so, it actually removed a good majority of the malware we infected our testing computers with. This is an interesting and unique move by Avast.

None of the other Internet Security suites we tested would insist on a boot scan (a boot scan is a method of scanning your system before Windows runs).

It's an effective way of defanging malware before it can get a hold of your system. The major downside is, it can take a very. long. time. to complete.

  • Avast Internet Security
    Avast Box
  • SCORE: 89%
    Price:
    $49.99
Still, despite a thorough boot scan, Avast bizarrely claimed it found zero threats. Zero!

Even though it obviously did a fairly thorough job, Avast claims to have found nothing. Very puzzling.

After a final reboot on each test PC, most test PCs had only one or two malware samples and a couple of adware desktop items that were still active.

Avast performed very well with real-time antivirus and malware protection.

With a fresh, updated version of Avast Internet Security (and fresh installs of Windows), we downloaded and installed malware onto the test PCs to measure Avast's real-time protection.

For starters, Avast started wiping out all of our malware samples before we could even open them. T

hose that we could open were either blocked or delayed for further inspection by Avast.

Avast then prompted for more boot scans which again took quite awhile. The result was a nearly squeaky clean system.

Some desktop items remained, and there were still about 33% of our malware samples that remained in our folder, but they were quickly identified and blocked by Avast when we tried to launch them.

Despite a few bumps and some long scanning times, Avast did pretty well overall with one concerning exception: antiphishing.

70% of active phishing sites were blocked, but only after we installed the Avast browser extension.

This isn't the smartest move by Avast since not everyone will know they need to install this separate component in the first place.

Those that ignore or don't understand its importance would be wide open to an array of phishing and other malware-related sites.


Firewall Protection: 82%

We're big fans of software firewalls. With good reason, we feel.

The firewall is your first line of defense against hackers, worms, WiFi spies, and a host of other threats. It's like a protective moat around your PC, defending it in ways the antivirus layer can't.

In a field where most of the firewalls we tested consistently let us down, Avast's was among the best performers.

Access to most ports we expected to be blocked were blocked and it did well in blocking our other attempts to attack the browser or otherwise circumvent it.

It also does a good job in providing advanced users with good control of what's happening.


Resource Usage: 84%

Avast's resource usage was a little high but reasonable.

During a full-system scan, Avast used about 11% of system resources, which is within reason and to be expected.

And when running idle in the background Avast was virtually silent.

Boot-up time was very slow, however. Avast made our testing PCs take nearly double the time to fully start up when compared to the competition.

It's a noticeable enough drain that most people will feel like their computer is taking longer to boot. And, well, it is.

During usage testing, we saw no significant system drain when surfing the web or downloading files. All things considered, Avast was not a resource hog.


User Interface: 90%

Click images to enlarge

The user interface for Avast Internet Security is clean, modern, and easy to use.

The text is a little smaller than we'd like to see, but it doesn't fall into the "tiny" range as some competitors do.

Each section is clearly displayed with simple, direct buttons or boxes to access.

Deeper sections are uncluttered enough to easily adjust any settings you may need to change.

They've done a good job of melding style, ease of use, and advanced control.


Technical Support: 50%

Avast's technical support department is a let-down.

For such an otherwise good product, Avast misses the mark when it comes to support.

On the surface, their support page looks really good.

There's a searchable knowledgebase, forum link, support ticket link, and even a prominent phone number to call.

It's all quite well done.

Unfortunately, things get murky. Fast.

If you want to submit a support ticket from the user interface, you'll find yourself wandering through several selections—with an annoying pop-up, no less—just to be allowed to ask your question.

After submitting, even if you label your question, "critical," it says you'll get a response in a few days.

We're not talking about something inconsequential here, this is your PC's security. You need to be able to count on the manufacturer to help you when you need it.

The lack of clarity and transparency here does nothing to instill confidence.

What about if you call them? If you do, there's a different set of problems to deal with.

First, even though they claim to have a U.S. support center, we ourselves were always connected with their reps in Costa Rica.

While it's true they will do provide "free" support for minor things like help installing or configuring Avast, that's where "free" support starts and ends.

If you have a virus infection that Avast can't remove on its own, and you need their help, Avast charges a one-time-fee of $119 for them to remove it. (Alternately, they also offer a year's worth of service for $179.) This is the second highest one-time fee of any manufacturer this year except for Panda.

To top things off, our survey respondents shared similar woes, too. Chief among their complaints:

  1. Even after paying the $119 / $179 removal fee, malware remained on their PCs
  2. They got a "hard-sell" to opt for the $179 year of service.

This is sad to hear—and see—in software which was otherwise a great performer.


Conclusion - Overall Score: 89%

  • Avast Internet Security
    Avast Box
  • SCORE: 89%
    Price:
    $49.99
  • Good malware protection
  • Very effective malware removal
  • Expensive, so-so technical support
  • Average system resource usage
Avast hasn't always been a major contender in Internet Security software, but this year shaped up to be surprisingly different.

Not only did Avast Internet Security perform better than expected, but it also impressed us with a good firewall, nice attention to design detail, and decent resource usage (notwithstanding the long boot times.)

It's imperfect though with inconsistent scanning reports and too many missed phishing sites.

In the end Avast Internet Security gets a thumbs up from us for an all-around good product.


Software Version 2016
Supported Operating System (OS) Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP
Minimum RAM Required 256 MB
Minimum Space Required 1.5 GB
Required Processor Speed 1 GHz
Money-back Guarantee 30 Days
Software Manufacturer avast
Click images to enlarge
Home Screen
Smart Scan
Settings
Firewall
SafeZone
Sandbox
Remote Assistance
Stats
Rescue Disk
Passwords
Sandbox Creates a safe environment to run suspicious software before you install it on your computer.
Anti-spam Helps keep your inbox free from unwanted and unsolicited email.
Browser cleanup Helps keep unwanted add-ons out of your browsers.