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 CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Antivirus & SecuritysecurityAvastantivirus

More about AvastAviraAviraComodo

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Nick Mediati

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts