Good / Interface is easy to use.
Bad / Things turn sour fast as the interface often feels clunky to use and overly loaded with features designed to take more money from you. A few of the included features even require additional payment plans. Other things included as a part of the interface like a “gift” are only discounts to purchase more things. Scan times are also extremely long and while system resource use is hard to identify, loading the app can be tricky on first start and scan times did impact our performance of other applications significantly.
Verdict / Avast might be one of the most popular antivirus softwares around, but their pushy upsells, poor scan times, and heavy system resource use leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Small summary history of Program
Avast is the most popular antivirus software in 2016 (in terms of what people are searching for in 2016).
Avast starts out at $34.99 a year for the basic “Pro Antivirus” model. Next up is the “Internet Security” model which is $39.99 a year. Finally, the premier package is $49.99 a year. They also have a “Free Antivirus” plan.
The basic antivirus package includes scanning and virus protection, the ability to reclaim your browser and get rid of extensions, real time protection, the ability to forget your passwords, spot fake banking sites, and protect your online shopping.
While a lot of these descriptions are enticing and sound cool, I hate how vague they are. Avast’s site doesn’t include much links or “learn more” tabs on what these features do. Unfortunately, a lot of comparison pages and product pages themselves are often designed this way in the Antivirus industry.
In order to find out how something works–or even what it is–you often have to test it yourself and submit yourself to their email campaigns and in the case of Avast–their aggressive “gift” discounts that permanently rest in one portion of the main interface.
The “Internet Security” plan ads a privacy shield and a spam cleaner to keep your inbox clean. The “Premier” edition ads the ability to beat hackers (update your software) and a file shredder.
A lot of these added features might seem unnecessary or confusing to how they might benefit your actual computer security. Do you need a spam cleaner? What does a shield to protect your computer imply?
There are also some extras embedded into Avast’s app itself that require additional payments per year like the Cleanup tool ($34.99 a year), VPN ($59.99 a year), and Password manager ($9.99 a year for the premium plan). Most Antivirus programs include things like optimization/cleanup tools so it’s disappointing to see that Avast has added these features in the form of add-ons. Avast does include a basic password manager but it tries to upsell the premium version.
If you want an Antivirus program with all of these things bundled in, I would recommend Bitdefender or Kaspersky instead.
Interface / usability
Avast’s interface works in one main window with various buttons that toggle more options once you click on them them. You can click on “Scan” to see more options, “Tools”, “Passwords” or the “Store”. It works like a hover system–providing more options on the selected tool–but you have to click instead.
While this keeps things looking minimalist, I much prefer a layout that keeps whatever you’re looking at open instead of hiding it away. For example, it would be nice if you clicked on Scan it would open up another interface with scan options–but here, it just performs like a preview of what you can do.
Once you select an option, it does open up another interface with those selected options. The result just makes you click a bunch of things a lot to get where you want to.
Clicking on Scan gives you a variety of different scan options. You have the standard scans (full system scan, quick scan, removable media, and also a boot scan) in the virus scans, while the smart scan performs a more generalized scan looking for problem areas like outdated software, viruses, add-ons, network threats, performance issues, and even weak passwords.
It’s nice that they bundled all of these features into Smart Scan, however, this scan is almost just a way for Avast to upsell their performance boosting addon. You can see programs that need updating–however, I’m not sure that this is really that useful for everyday users who are fine with Adobe Acrobat or their media player being a bit out of data.
The other scans mainly are individual scans inside Smart Scan which enable you to look for browser add-ons, network threats, or performance issues.
Moving on to the tools section you will find SecureLine VPN, Firewall, SafeZone Browser, Rescue Disk, Sandbox, and a Data Shredder. Unless you pay more, you can’t use the VPN. As mentioned before, it’s an additional $59.99. I would suggest using one of our top rated VPNs instead.
SafeZone Browser is Avast’s safer browser which is suppose to be–well, more safe. It includes anti-malware layers, protects transactions, AD block, and filters pages with bad reputations. If you’re an entry level user, this could be a useful tool. Overall we liked how well it integrates with the password tool from Avast, but we found it a bit slow to use. Additionally, it’s like a whole new browser so it might take additional tweaking that you might not want to bother with.
Besides self-explanatory things like the firewall tool, and Rescue Disk, you also have Sandbox and Data Shredder. Sandbox lets you test files in a secure environment while Data Shredder gets rid of files permanently. Sandbox would be perfect for that sketchy .exe file. Both of these tools are easy to use and work fairly well–even if their uses are particularly niche.
The Password tool is your basic Antivirus password manager which sets you up with a master password and then lets you enter in your passwords. You can import passwords you have already, as well as add secure notes.
Overall, Avast has plenty of tools for you to use (some included and some not–VPN and cleanup are not included), and their scans are some of the most dynamic we’ve seen–even if their usefulness is sometimes questionable since Avast tries to get you to buy other products constantly.
Launching, installing, and getting Avast past the initial installation bump was more of a process than I would have liked. Firstly, starting up Avast just felt plain glitchy. A lot of my applications stopped connecting to my internet connection and I had to restart them to get them working like normal. The first time I restarted my computer I also noticed a huge slowdown in my startup time. The boot time scan also required an additional download which I found odd.
Performance using the application can often feel slow and laggy. Navigating tabs or interfaces or even launching the browser can have noticeable delays.
Scan times are quite hefty too with the full system scan taking two hours and 28 minutes–a new record in our scans compared to competitors. The quick scan was also a little bit longer than usual running at 29 minutes.
Avast also splits up how the program performs so it’s hard to identify how much system resources are being used during scans. System use seems normal to high–as you won’t be loading any major programs or games but even using the application by itself and navigating through menus can feel laggy or slow.
Avast Review Conclusion
Avast might be the most popular Antivirus software in 2016, but that certainly doesn’t mean its the best. In the end, when using Avast, I felt more like a way for them to make money, not a valued customer.