The antivirus solution from developer AVAST Software comes in many flavors and most users opt for the free edition for obvious reasons. This does not make it any less reliable, however. The program features intuitive, advanced and customizable scanning methods along with other modules dedicated to computer safety.
The installer is completely configurable when it comes to shields (for files, emails and web), security tools and preferred languages. Since it is ad-supported, the utility offers to install unnecessary third-party components but they can be skipped.
The security tools include browser protection and cleanup (e.g. Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox), software updater for other programs installed, remote assistance for access on other computers, SecureLine for connection encryption agsinst spyware via VPN, GrimeFighter for system cleanup and maintenance, Rescue Disk for worst case scenarios with malware-crippled PCs, and a simple management connector that reports the Avast status to COM monitoring software.
Avast is wrapped in a pleasant and easy-to-use interface which provides fast access to the av status, scanning methods, tools, portable devices with Avast installed for remote control (smartphones, tablets), statistics (real-time and historical data, component status), as well as the rich configuration area, and animated tray icon based on different events.
It is possible to perform a quick scan in areas where malware is known to hide, complete by taking into account the entire computer, in removable drives only, custom directories, or at every Windows boot in autostart processes and services.
It is not necessary to change any settings, since Avast has a pretty decent default configuration. But advanced users have the possibility to fiddle with options regarding rootkits, file types, the exact scan areas, heuristics, PUP and suspicious files, archive formats, action on malware detection, scan priority, reports, exclusions, and scan scheduling.
Unconfirmed suspected infections sent to the quarantine may be investigated to decide whether to keep or eliminate them, while reports with scan activities may be examined in logs.
The software updater automatically finds updates available for other programs, SecureLine must be purchased before it can be used, the browser cleanup component removes toolbars and resets browser settings to default if necessary, AccessAnywhere requires an Avast account (free) to control the PC from remote locations, and Rescue Disk creates a bootable USB or CD drive with the latest virus definitions to use for offline scanning and cleaning.
System resources can be hogged or spared, depending on how fast users want the scans to finish. It is possible to disable the file system, mail or web shield with one click and customize settings for each one of them. As far as virus detection ratio is concerned, Avast Free Antivirus delivers very good results, which places it among the top-rated antivirus solutions on the current market.
The utility's virus signatures can be kept up-to-date with Avast Virus Definitions. Those looking for enhanced security features can test and/or purchase Avast Premier, Avast Internet Security or Avast Pro Antivirus.