Avast Free Antivirus 5: Good all-around option

Avast Free Antivirus is a well-rounded antivirus package: It blocks malware, has a pleasant interface and scans files quickly

Avast Free Antivirus 5 took the top spot in our late 2010 roundup of free antivirus software. It provides good, all-around malware detection in a speedy, well-designed package. We liked its easy installation process, smooth interface design, and minimal impact in system performance. However, although it wins out overall, its malware detection, while good, isn't the best we've seen.

Avast Free Antivirus 5 is well designed and generally easy to use. In most respects, it's a somewhat scaled-down version of the paid Avast Pro Antivirus 5. The installation process was quick and painless, and I had to click through only a couple of screens before it started installing. The main screen is laid out nicely and is easy to use, though not without its flaws. A slightly annoying aspect of Avast Free Antivirus the fact that a banner advertising its paid counterpart will appear on the Summary tab, but since it's unobtrusive, it isn't a serious issue.

First, the negatives: In traditional malware scanner tests (which rely predominantly on signature files to identify malware), Avast Free Antivirus detected 94.8 per cent of samples, which is neither particularly good nor bad (top scorers detected over 99 per cent of malware samples). It also did a decent, though not outstanding, job at detecting malware in our real-world malware detection tests: It completely blocked 76 per cent of attacks (which is right about average), and partially blocked four per cent of attacks. The top performer in this test, the free Comodo Internet Security Premium, completely blocked 96 per cent of attacks.

But on the plus side, Avast Free Antivirus didn't falsely identify a single "safe" file as a piece of malware, the only free product we looked at that did so. Avast Free also did a good job at disinfecting a PC, detecting all infections on our test PC and removing all active components of malware infections 80 per cent of the time, which set the pace among the free products we reviewed.

Scan speeds are very good, too. It scanned 4.5GB of data in 90 seconds in the on-demand scan test (that is, scans started by pressing the Scan Now button). This was a close second to Avira AntiVir Personal, which completed the test in 87 seconds. And Avast Free completed the on-access scan speed test in 3 minutes, 40 seconds -- tops among the products we looked at. This is a good test to tell how well security software can scan for malware when files are opened or saved to disk.

Avast Free Antivirus also had a low impact on PC performance. Our test PC with Avast Free installed booted up in 44.5 seconds, which is roughly 4.5 seconds slower than the PC without antivirus software installed, but less of a slowdown than the average of the free antivirus software we looked at. The same held true for many of the other speed tests we performed.

Avast's support options outclass other free antivirus programs. Unlike most free antivirus software which only comes with online support, Avast offers free telephone support, so you'll actually be able to talk with someone directly if you have a problem. For some, that alone may be worth the tradeoff of good-but-not-top-notch malware detection. Although it wasn't the top performer in every category, Avast Free Antivirus is an excellent, well-rounded free antivirus program.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags antivirusAntivirus & SecurityAvast

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nick Mediati

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?