Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Avast 4 Home Edition
- FREE!, high performance protection, virus isolation, regular virus definitions updates
- None to speak of.
With a wide array of protections for your PC, Avast! works superbly to keep your computer safe, a rare thing in free software.
When you talk anti-virus software pretty much everyone has heard of Norton Anti-Virus. While Symantec's anti-virus suite is very good and overtly popular, there is a quiet achiever available for download from the internet that is updated more frequently, uses less system resources, is more effective and most of importantly of all, is absolutely free.
Avast! Anti-virus is a superb package with protection for a wide range of programs that interact with the internet from your home PC. We have decided to review the Home Edition, since this is the free edition. Professional Edition is exactly the same, but has to be paid for in a commercial environment. The Professional Edition is available as part of one of four suites which are targeted at server protection and protection for large intranets.
Avast! Home Edition is an extremely simple 10.02 MB download and requires no registration. Many websites with apparently "free" programs tend to fill their programs with advertising or make you register with them to receive the program. Suddenly, without warning, your email inbox becomes a haven for hundreds of Viagra related emails. When Avast! Offers something for free it is exactly that, with no strings attached.
Installation is very easy but will require a restart of your PC. Once you have restarted, an initial scan of your computer will begin. While it is a long and painful process, resist the temptation to skip it because if you have a virus, leaving it there could be disastrous. When we had Norton installed we had no Viruses on our system but after uninstalling it and setting up Avast! We found three Trojans straight off the bat. Once a virus is found you have the option of obliterating it or sending it off to a holding area called "the chest". Once there you can examine it closely and make sure it is a virus before you remove it. Some anti-virus programs mistake key components of Windows Media Player and other programs as viruses, you need to be careful when neutralising a virus, just in case it is something important.
Avast! offers protection on several fronts while using the internet. As part of the standard resident protection it has various "shields" which watch over Instant Messenger, Peer to Peer, Internet mail, Outlook/Exchange Mail and a general shield for your network. For the most part, you will never know that Avast! is running, but when a malicious file is detected, klaxon alarms blare from your computer and Avast! requests instructions. Infected files downloaded over a Peer to Peer client were found immediately and access to the files was suspended, even to the point of no longer appearing in Windows explorer. We then moved the files to the virus chest and looked at them. Infected by a Trojan virus, we deleted the file and our system remained was cleaned.
Whereas Norton Anti-Virus has intermittent virus definition updates, we found that Avast! updated the virus database more frequently which translates to thorough protection against new viruses. Also, for most part Avast! uses far less system resources than any other anti-virus software we have seen. There were times when it was resource hungry, but these events were rare.
Easily the best thing Avast! has going for it, besides its outstanding performance, is the interface. All the protection elements on offer are easily configurable, easy to understand and can be operated even by the most novice of users. Generally, most anti-virus software we have used tends to be overly complicated and catered for expert users without any consideration for the average Joe.
Avast! is a high performance anti-virus software that blows away the competition. As much as we have loved the anti-virus software from Norton and McAfee in the past, we have been converted to Avast! and not just because we love getting something for nothing. Being a free download does make this package far more attractive for the average user and with 64bit processors becoming more commonplace, the fact that Avast! supports Windows XP 64bit Edition also rates very highly with us too.
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