Overall Score 77%

Avast Box
Avast Antivirus Software

The Case for Avast

  • In business 24 years (1991)
  • Good antivirus protection
  • Easy-to-use design
  • Poor tech support
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Made in the Czech Republic
  • Costa Rica phone tech support
$39.99
(1-PC / 1-Year)
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by Kevin R. Smith, Co-Editor
Virus & Spyware Protection: 88%

Avast performed well this year with decent virus removal and good real-time protection. For whatever reason getting both of these things right is a problem for most products this year.

For our first battery of tests, we first installed Avast Pro onto each test PC. Next, after temporarily disabling Avast, we installed a host of malware on our testing PCs including, trojans, viruses, adware, rogueware, etc.

Then, we activated Avast Pro Antivirus and ran a full-system scan to see if Avast would effectively clean and/or remove the malware we'd installed.

Halfway through the scans, Avast prompted us to run a boot scan on some of the test PCs. This was very surprising—pleasantly so—since a boot scan is a way to scan your system before Windows runs.

It's a good way to prevent most malware from launching in the first place. This is a clever move by Avast. And it's one no other antivirus software we tested did as part of the clean-up action.

The down side is, a boot scan takes a very, very long time to run.

Invariably, this kind of thing seems to happen when you least have the time to spare to let it run, but it's a small price to pay compared to having malware festering on your system.

  • Avast Pro Antivirus
    Avast Box
  • SCORE: 77%
    Price:
    $39.99
In the end, Avast did a really good job with virus removal, cleaning up the majority of threats off our PCs. There were small handsful of foreign adware left behind on some of the test PCs, but given that the nastiest threats were all caught, it's virus removal can safely be called, "very good."

One strange thing was that Avast claimed to have found zero threats. Not one... even though it obviously got most of them. Puzzling.

We put this question to different Avast reps and got different answers each time, but no one had a definitive solution.

As for real-time protection, Avast did well here, too. With a fresh install of Windows and Avast Pro Antivirus on each test PC, we attempted to download and install our multiple malware sets. Avast instantly started deleting them one by one before we could even open them. Those that we could open were blocked before we could install them.

Avast then prompted us (again) for boot scans on the test computers, which (again) took some time to run.

After a reboot, our PCs were almost as good as new... almost. About 35% of the malware samples remaining in our 'Downloads' folder, but Avast blocked them when we tried to launch them.

And, there were still some desktop icons remaining and the occasional adware program running.

We'd prefer to see the malware quarantined or it and the icons deleted outright, but all-in-all, it was a very respectable performance by Avast.

During our phishing tests, Avast didn't do as well, where it missed just under a third of the phishing sites we visited.

One thing to note, which we didn't care for: a special browser antiphishing add-on needs to be installed first.

It's easy to see given the bad reputation browser add-ons have these days how some users might neglect to install it.

Avast should be able to identify phishing sites without the add-on. It's a weakness in an otherwise good performance from Avast.


Resource Usage: 84%

Avast's resource usage was slightly higher than normal but still reasonable.

Running at idle in the background, Avast was nearly silent. But when running a full scan, Avast consumed about 10% of the system resources. That's to be expected.

Boot up time was nearly double that of the competition, causing Windows to load noticeably slower than normal.

We're disappointed with the slow boot time, but Avast Pro Antivirus makes up for it with good performance once Windows is running.


User Interface: 90%

Click images to enlarge

The user interface for Avast is modern and clean looking—a much needed upgrade from last year.

Each section is clearly labeled and easy to navigate.

Thankfully, Avast also includes good, well-labeled advanced settings.

Although most people won't need to wander into these places often, it's good to see these are well-executed, too.


Technical Support: 50%

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

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

On the surface, their support page looks great. There's a searchable knowledgebase, forum link, support ticket link, and even a prominent phone number to call.

But then things get murky. Fast.

If you want to submit a support ticket from within the user interface, you're forced to walk through several selections (with an annoying pop-up, no less) just to be allowed to ask your question.

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

We're not talking about recipe software here, we're talking about security software.

You need to be able to rely on the manufacturer to help you when you need it. The lack of clarity and transparency here is no good.

If you opt to call them, there's a whole host of new problems to deal with.

First, the rep we talked to said they have support centers in the Czech Republic as well as the US. We ourselves were always routed to Costa Rica, no doubt because of the similarity of time zones.

While it's true they will give you "free" support for minor issues like installation help, configuration, etc., that's where the "free" part of the equation ends.

If you have a virus infection, you're going to need to pay a one-time fee of $119 for them to remove it (or $179 for a year's worth of service). This is the second highest one-time fee of any manufacturer this year. (Only Panda is higher.)

Aside from our own experience with their technical support, we've had numerous complaints from readers taking our annual satisfaction survey. They fell into two categories:

  1. Avast hasn't always fully removed viruses even after paying the fee.
  2. they've been given a "hard sell" to try to up-sell them to the yearly service. Yuck.

It's frustrating to see a product do well technologically only to fall short because of expensive, lackluster support.


Conclusion - Overall Score: 77%

  • Avast Pro Antivirus
    Avast Box
  • SCORE: 77%
    Price:
    $39.99
  • Very good virus removal
  • Very good realtime protection
  • Significantly improved interface
  • Expensive so-so tech support
In prior years, Avast wasn't a particularly noteworthy adversary for its competitors.

This year, they've made a big leap forward. Their overall antivirus protection, while imperfect, is still one of the best of the year.

We really hope they get their tech support issues sorted out, because when you need help you need help.

The last thing anyone wants is to be left high-and-dry or stuck with high fees (or high-pressure sales tactics.)

So, in spite of the grievances we have with their support, Avast still gets a thumbs-up from us for good virus removal, good protection, and a well-designed interface.


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
Scan Options
Stats
Passwords
Settings
Active Protection
Tools
Sandbox A "sandbox" lets you run suspicious programs in a safe environment before they run on your computer. Helps identify malware before it's too late.
Browser cleanup Helps you get rid of unwanted tool-bars or add-ons in your browser.

Antivirus Software Comparison


Rank Winner 2nd Place 3rd Place 4th Place 5th Place 6th Place 7th Place 8th Place 9th Place 10th Place
Score 95%93%90%85%82%78%77%76%74%73%
Antivirus Software

All Software Available for Instant Download
VIPRE Box
SAVE 30%
$39.99
$27.99
ESET Box

(no discount)
$39.99
Norton Box
SAVE 43%
$69.99
$39.99
Bitdefender Box
SAVE 58%
$59.95
$24.99
Panda Box
SAVE 25%
$39.99
$29.99
AVG Box
SAVE 20%
$49.99
$39.99
Avast Box

(no discount)
$39.99
Kaspersky Box

(no discount)
$39.95
McAfee Box
SAVE 58%
$59.99
$24.99
Avira Box

(no discount)
$44.99
Works with
Win 10
Works with
Win 8x
Works with
Win 7
Works with
Win Vista
Works with
Win XP
Malware Protection
Low Resource Usage
Social Network Protection
USB Scanning
Email Scanning
Easy to Use
Tech Support Based In
U.S.A.
U.S.A.
India
India
India
India
Costa Rica
Philippines
India
Germany
Support Fee for Virus Removal $0 $0/$50* $19.99 $99.99 $59.94 $119.00 $119.00 $99.99 $89.95 $0
*Fees for virus removal may apply in some cases.


Explanation of Features


  • Malware Protection: Viruses, spyware, and trojans are all considered "malware" these days. Which software offers maximum protection against all forms of malware?
  • Low Resource Usage: Protecting a PC is important. Doing it while using as little CPU and memory is just as important.
  • Social Network Protection: There are just as many threats on Facebook and Twitter as well as other social sites. Good social network scanning is important.
  • USB Scanning: USB and other portable drives are one of the most dangerous and neglected points of entry for viruses and other malware. Good USB scanning is vital.
  • Email Scanning: Email has a long history of being an easy entry point for malware. Being able to detect and block threats to your PC is important.
  • Easy to Use: Is the software easy to use? Do the settings make sense? Is the software well organized? How well does the software compare?
  • Tech Support: No one wants to call tech support. Ever. If you do need to contact support, are they helpful, responsive, and accountable?