Avast! Pro Antivirus vs. Avast! Free Edition - do you really need to pay?

Avast! Pro Antivirus vs. Avast! Free Edition - do you really need to pay?
(Image credit: Avast)

Avast is one of the best antivirus software packages on the market. It comes in two different types, Avast! Pro Antivirus and Avast! Free Edition. These two software choices are very similar but, as common sense would tell you, the free version lacks a few things that the software you pay for does not. Don't let the discrepancies fool you, though: Avast Software's free version is still a powerful tool for fighting malicious software and protecting your computer from fresh attacks.

We've tested the free version of Avast against the premium version to see what the differences are, and to help you decide whether or not you want to subscribe to the paid-for service. Antivirus is essential for any home computer... but do you really need to pay for it?

Avast! Free Edition Features

Avast boasts that its free software is better than many purchased antivirus software packages. While this statement may be debatable when it comes to overall performance, prestigious companies such as AV Comparatives have tested the free software. In the AV test, the free Avast software was much faster at scanning than some major competitors. In fact, it was the fastest software in the pack.

It is also clear that the free version is very similar to the paid software. The free version has, "The minimum protection every PC should have," according to Avast. This includes protection against viruses, spyware, malware, and keyloggers.

One big drawback to the free edition is that it is meant for home use only. This means that if you want to use it at work, or on a laptop you use for work purposes, you'll be violating the software's Terms of Service. It also means that you won't be able to use it on multiple computers.

Avast antivirus

(Image credit: Avast)

Avast! Pro Antivirus Features

Avast! Pro Antivirus has the same protection features that the free version has, but with one major upgrade. Avast Pro includes SafeZone technology that keeps your account information private while you are online. Avast Software describes its SafeZone technology as, "A program akin to an 'inside-out sandbox' that creates full desktop isolation by opening a new [clean] desktop where no other applications are running, such as invasive malware applications or keyloggers. Also, it leaves no traces once it's closed." This means that malicious software won't be able to capture your login details, account numbers, credit card information or passwords.

Avast! Pro Antivirus, unlike its free version, can be used on any computer you like, as long as your account is up to date. The software is run on a subscription plan. You can purchase a one-year or two-year subscription that lets you use it on up to 10 computers for an extra fee.

Should you pay for Avast?

Unlike most free computer-protection software, Avast! Free Edition is a very useful version of its purchasable brother. It is simple to use, has a wide range of protection features and only lacks a few features found in Avast! Pro Antivirus. Of course, the free version is impractical if you want to use it anywhere other than your home. For office or business use, Avast! Pro Antivirus is a better choice that provides another layer of protection that can be important for use in public settings.

Ian Stokes

Ian Stokes is the Tech Editor here at Top Ten Reviews. He has extensive experience in tech and games journalism, with work published on IGN, Kotaku UK, Waypoint, GamesRadar, Trusted Reviews, and many more. You'll find him covering everything from smartphones and home computers to 3D printers and headphones. He's also our resident cocktail expert.