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Avast Antivirus Essential 2016 Review

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PROS / Avast detects when your applications are out of date and updates them for you.

CONS / Email scanning is only available with a higher-priced version of Avast, not on the basic Antivirus Pro program.

 VERDICT / Avast Pro Antivirus has a strong feature list with good AV-Test scores for protection and usability, though it causes your computer to run slower when performing malware scans.

Avast is a well-known name in the antivirus software industry. Avast Antivirus Pro includes a host of useful features, good detection rates and 24/7 phone support that help it claim a spot in our review of the best antivirus software.

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Independent testing laboratory AV-Test tested Avast Antivirus Pro on Windows 10 from March to April 2015. In usability tests, which determined whether it falsely found threats in legitimate software, it scored perfectly. It also scored perfectly for protection, meaning it correctly identified and blocked nearly 23,000 malware threats. It has an average performance score, a measure of whether it slows down your computer while it runs, though it caused more lag than the majority of Windows 10 antivirus software in the tests.

  1. Windows 10 Protection test results from AV-Test, April 2016
    Higher is Better.
  2. 6 Avast
    100%
  3. 100%
  4. 100%
  5. 100%
  6. Category Average
    92.38%

Avast Pro Antivirus has many useful features, including a software updater that analyzes whether your computer's applications require updates. Hackers know that many users fail to maintain current software versions, so they attack with older malware attached to real-looking reminders to update your programs in hopes of catching laggards. Avast's software updater can improve your security if you have a tendency to postpone software updates.

Secure DNS is one of Avast's unique tools, which helps prevent DNS hijacking. DNS hijacking steers you from legitimate sites to fake ones, so while you think you're on your bank's website, someone is actually stealing your credentials. Another feature that extends security beyond virus protection is Avast's home network security scanner, which checks your network for potential issues. It warns you of weak Wi-Fi passwords or alerts you if you still have the default password on your router. Gaming mode prevents the display of pop-ups and alerts when you watch videos or play games on your PC so you can enjoy them in peace.

Avast Antivirus for Windows 8

Avast scored significantly high in the area of performance during AV-Test's evaluations, earning it a higher spot in our Windows 8 antivirus software review than in our Windows 10 antivirus comparison. It still scored perfectly on the protection and usability tests, which means it is one of the top programs in detecting malware threats and easily identifies between legitimate websites and true internet threats.

Avast is a powerful antivirus for Windows 8 and extends that protection to mobile devices, providing malware protection for Android. The only threat that we found Avast doesn't protect against is the newly evolving ransomware. These threats hold your computer hostage so you can't access any program or files until you pay the creator of the threat a specified sum of money, ranging from a couple hundred dollars to over 1,000. Not many antiviruses for Windows 8 have this capability just yet.

This computer protection solution has a gaming mode, so you can watch videos, surf the web, and play computer games without worrying about pop-ups or other distractions that affect gameplay time. Avast also comes with a bootable rescue CD to recover your computer in the event an internet threat does make its way through the software's barriers.

Avast Antivirus Windows 7

Avast is good at preventing malware infections on Windows 7 computers. It blocks spyware and viruses, and it offers a gaming mode so you can play or surf online without interruption of pop-ups or security scans that may cause your applications to run slower. Avast scans your incoming email, instant messages and compressed files to ensure nothing dangerous is attached to them. If it does find something, it works to remove the threat before it can reach your system.

During the last AV-Test run in February 2016, Avast showed average results in both protection and performance, matching the industry standard for Windows 7 antivirus protection software. It did receive a perfect sore for usability, meaning it could tell the difference between legitimate websites and true malware threats more often than average.

Avast Antivirus for Windows Vista & XP

Avast is included in both our antivirus software for Windows Vista and antivirus for Windows XP lineups. However, it did significantly better at protecting against viruses on Windows XP computers than Windows Vista systems.

For its December 2010 test of Avast on Windows Vista, AV-Test gave it a 3.5 out of 6, or 58 percent, for protection, meaning it didn't do as well as most antiviruses at identifying, blocking and removing malware threats. Additionally, it caused a 105-second lag on the computer as testers attempted to access common websites, use programs and transfer files. This is still better than the industry standard of 221 seconds, earning Avast an overall usability score of 92 percent for Windows Vista.

From May to June 2014, Avast improved its performance on Windows XP operating systems, receiving a 75 percent protection score and a perfect score for usability from AV-Test.

Help & Support

Avast doesn't have live chat support, but it does offer 24/7 phone support. This is especially nice because you'd usually need help with your personal computer outside regular business days and hours. Avast also has email support and an online knowledgebase with common problems and solutions. You can also tap into the user forum to get help.

Summary

Avast Pro Antivirus has few problems detecting malware and determining whether incoming traffic is a threat or not. It extends its protection to your home network, prevents hackers from hijacking your browser and finds out-of-date applications that make you vulnerable. Its 24/7 telephone support is a nice addition to a good product that scored well in AV-Test evaluations on both Windows 10 and Windows 8 computers.

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