AVAST! FREE ANTIVIRUS: LIGHT, SHARP, AND USER FRIENDLY ANTIVIRUS FOR DAILY ROUTINES ON THE LAND AND NET ENVIRONMENT


Long time before I put my trust in Avast! Free Antivirus, I used Symantec Antivirus (Corporate Edition), Norton Antivirus, Avira Personal Edition, Vipre Premium, Comodo Internet Security, and Roboscan. All were used—at least—for 1 year. And in the beginning of this year, I tried to use Trend Micro Internet Security 2014—only for 1 week because it was slowing down my machine! So, finally I returned to Avast!

Read my post about my experience in using Trend Micro Internet Security 2014 here: https://mythoughtaboutasoftware.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/trend-micro-titanium-internet-security-2012-and-2014/.

I had seen Avast! Free Antivirus in my friend’s computer a few years before I familiarized myself with it. And for almost 2 years recently, I run Avast! and always install it whenever my friends or my neighbors ask for quick, light, and reliable antivirus. Avast! is not an ordinary free antivirus. It has some superiorities than its competitors. It is totally a simple and powerful free antivirus in the market. It also light and “sharp”.

The stuffs that I love (and you’ll love them too)

User interface. First of all, the user interface of an antivirus can’t really be denied as an important thing to be considered. Avast! has all best UI categories: simple, intuitive, and easy access even for newbie.

Avast UI

Active protection. The active protection covers 3 functions: file system shield, mail shield (to scan incoming and outgoing POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail, including the connection that is used), and web shield (to secure our daily online activities by blocking malware URLs, site blocking, script scanning, etc.).

Scanning preferences. When I let Avast! to run in its basic scanning preferences, it runs smooth. Even when I changed the parameters for optimum scanning, such as set the sensitivity, heuristic level, and scanning priority, I got no problem at all. No massive memory consumption. No lag. No crash or “not responding” label in any windows during the scanning process.

Customizing scanning preferences and antivirus parameters are easy to do. All scanning modes can be set easily to increase the power and sharpness of Avast!. We can choose the default scanning mode and schedule it to run in a specific time to ensure that our system is well protected. There are 5 scanning modes that we can customize to meet our needs: basic scan, full system scan, removable media scan (also integrated with Windows Explorer), select folder to scan (also integrated with Windows Explorer), and boot-time scan.

Avast Scanning Preferences

Boot-time scan. Special for boot-time scan, it is one of Avast!’s superiorities that I love it very-very much. It does an “isolated” scan that we can set to do both partial scan and thorough scan. If you are still suspecting your machine as infected after manual full scan, you can rely on boot-time scan.

Boot-time scan

Game / silent mode. It’s a real sure that when we are working on our computer, we don’t want to be bothered by any notification/pop-up/alerts, especially antivirus notification (asking for or confirming update, catching virus, upgrade offerings, etc.). So that’s why, Avast! provides silent mode so that we can enjoy our computing without any disturbance. And luckily, Avast! provides this silent mode freely—in its Avast! Free Antivirus—while other antivirus programs provide game mode in their paid versions.

Resources consumption. Avast! consumes low to moderate resources. My old 2.2 GHz Core 2 Duo PC with 2 GB of DDR2 RAM runs so smooth even when I do a full scan every Sunday morning while listening to my favorite music and (sometimes) Photoshop-ing or doing something with CorelDraw X4 or just typing stuffs for my blogs. When I tested Avast! in my brother’s laptop (2.53 GHz Core i3 with 2 GB of DDR3 RAM) Avast! also run fairly smooth. For the startup time, both in my PC and my brother’s laptop, Avast! starts well. It doesn’t slow down the machines. Well, the machines can’t be ready under 1 minute, but it still tolerable.

Streaming update. This feature delivers quick virus database and program update. Only stuffs that need to be updated will be updated. It will ensure that the virus signatures (database) is in the updated and optimum state.

Avast! for Smartphone. Besides using Avast! Free Antivirus for PC, I also put my trust in Avast! for my Andromax G Smartphone. Just the same as Avast! for PC, it’s free, so reliable, and rich of features: virus scanner to detect malware, anti-theft, backup, application locking to prevent unauthorized  people to run specific applications or change system state and preferences, privacy advisor, application management, SMS and call filter, firewall, and network meter. Some features such as virus scanner, application locking, application management, and network meter are working well in un-rooted mode, but most features and sub-features need to run in rooted mode or only run if we install the premium version.

Avast! for Smartphone

Avast! for SMartphone

Technical support and Avast! account. Technical support is important. Whenever you need help about the product you use, they should respond to you quickly. Unlike other antivirus vendors that often provide quick technical support only for the premium subscribers (paid version users), Avast! provides friendly technical support team to respond to any problem we face even if we (only) use Avast! Free Antivirus. Avast! also has a forum with active users in there. Whenever you need help, you can always choose to ask to the official technical support team or ask to the practitioners in the forum.

Another thing: Avast! provides centralized device management so that users can manage the devices connected to the account. For the Smartphone users, Avast! account is important because the Smartphone can be controlled right from the account dashboard in the case of the device is stolen. We just need to login to our account from computer web browser and start controlling our device such as activating anti-theft sub-features (lock the phone, play siren sound, and locate the device).

Avast! browser extension (add-in). I have Chrome browser installed in my PC and I installed Avast! extension to add an extra-layer of web-surfing protection. It filters the search result when I Google or visit some web sites. I even can take a part in giving a rating to a web site / blog. You can also do the same thing, to increase the awareness of internet users about safe and unsafe net environment.

DeepScreen. This feature will ensure that your every single click on a file keep you stay away from danger. It also will protect us from an unknown process that may harm our computer.

The DeepScreen technology allow avast! to make better real-time decisions when an unknown file is executed.

Software updater. This cool feature is quite helpful to detect obsolete software and help us to keep all software updated instantly. Bugs in old software may become attack target and increase computer vulnerability and may expose our computer to danger. So, keep your software updated!

Rescue Disk. In the case of system failure due to virus attack or boot-time scan is impossible to be set, or it doesn’t work well, we can rely on Rescue Disk to rescue our system. Some antivirus vendors provide rescue disk on their web site, while Avast! can create it directly through its UI and need internet connection. We can put it in a USB flash-drive or in a CD then boot the computer from it. Unfortunately, I don’t have stable internet connection at home, so I often get failed to create the rescue disk. Maybe, it will be good if Avast! also put the rescue disk to be available for (manual) download on its official site. So, people with unstable internet connection like me can download it manually (because I can rely on download accelerator such as Internet Download Manager, Down ThemAll! Extension, or the similar download management software).

Password protection. A password can be set to protect Avast! so that attackers and unauthorized people cannot modify preferences, deactivate, or uninstall Avast!.

Backup and restore settings. I often install Avast! Free Antivirus for other people: my neighbors, ex-classmates, and even for guests! Did you know, that to set Avast! parameters so that it works on its “peak” abilities is so boring? Because doing that is so boring and so wasting my precious 5-10 minutes, I decided to backup my Avast! setting so that I can use it to set other people’s new installed Avast! by importing (restoring) my setting to their Avast! J

More custom settings. Avast! also provides multilingual UI and funny multilingual notification sounds. They might be not as important as Avast!’s ability to catch virus, but if you want to have “unique” antivirus, Avast! meets your need. Check it here: https://www.facebook.com/avast/app_161683100556760 🙂

Overall capability in protecting my PC (and my brother’s laptop). So far, Avast! brings a good life to our machines. It’s light, fast, and sharp. It catches every virus that tries to invade our computer, especially from our friends’ infected USB flash-drives. Avast! also protects our browsing activity, although only in its basic mode. For more secure online experience such as for online transaction, of course, Avast! Premiere is the best. But so far, for me and my brother, basic protection for daily works (and gaming) and browse the internet, Avast! Free Antivirus is enough. All in all, I give score: 85 (of 100) for Avast! Free Antivirus.

The things that I don’t like (but I don’t hate them)

“Disable” feature in Avast! shield control. With this feature, I even can install pirated applications with harmful crack or keygen. First, I turn off my Avast! then install the application and activate it using the keygen, and finally I turn on my Avast! again. Now, you see that my computer is infected. Great antivirus should not put such this feature to ensure that users can’t deactivate their protector even for 5 minutes as it may expose the computer to danger!

GrimeFighter and Browser cleanup. Today, security and privacy are one-package need, especially in an online environment. Since we use computer and browse internet everyday, traces, unnecessary items (temporary files and unwanted files and applications), junks of visited web sites, and annoying browser’s toolbars or add-ins may occupy and burden our system. And some traces are usually used to “record” our online habit. So that’s why we need to clean our system often. Luckily, Avast! provides GrimeFighter to clean up our system so we do not need to install different software to clean up and speed up our computer. But, unfortunately, GrimeFighter is not included in Avast! free version. It’s there as a menu but only as “advertisement”. It does a system scan, but to clean up the system, we must have Avast! paid version. GrimeFighter also can’t work offline. Learn about GrimeFighter here: https://blog.avast.com/2014/06/13/everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-the-avast-grimefighter/.

GrimeFighter

For the browser cleanup function, actually, I like it—and should not be included in this “things that I don’t like” list—since it can clean our browser from unwanted and annoying toolbars. It’s also free, but needs to work online. It’s quite fair since (maybe) it needs to gain the “database” of bad-rated toolbars and extensions (add-ins) from the net.

USB scan on insertion. All antivirus programs have auto-scan on USB insertion to prevent auto-run viruses infecting computer. Some antiviruses do on-background scanning, while the others show scanning window. And Avast! blocks auto-run viruses before they reach our system. But unfortunately, it seems that I should do manual thorough scan on any removable media I attach to my PC since there is no scanning window appears or special on-background scanning icon in the system tray. Just afraid, if the viruses on removable media directly spread into my system when I open a file or folder. Please correct me if Avast! does USB scan on insertion although there is no scanning window appears or special scanning icon in the system tray.

Referral program. Referral program, where users can refer a good product to the others (with prize) is very interesting. And Avast! has referral program too. So I examined my fortune. I sent e-mails with the “promotion” link to my friends. Two of them clicked my link, then downloaded  and installed Avast! Free Antivirus. I should get 2 points from this. But so far, whenever I check my point through my Avast! account dashboard, my point remains 0. I tried to complain this to Avast! team for twice. But they said: just wait for several hours until my friends’ installation being counted. I don’t know, maybe I missed the right step to promote Avast! or maybe my friends did wrong download and installation procedures. I don’t mind. I even keep installing Avast! to other people’s computers using offline installer I downloaded myself.

Conclusion

So, you are looking for a fast, light, sharp, reliable, and free antivirus, right? There are plenty of such that antivirus programs on net. You may have heard a lot about them one by one. And maybe, one or two of them are as powerful as Avast! or have the same features (with different name, maybe). But maybe you have also heard about “system-burdening” free antivirus—that’s free but takes long time to boot up, slows down the machine, or has “too sophisticated” settings. Or, maybe you have tried a free antivirus that bothered you so much with its notifications (caught viruses and need to click on “Remove” button, needed to be updated—because you hadn’t updated it for 7 days or more, etc.) or maybe you have seen a free antivirus that really needed high speed and broadband internet connection just to update its virus signatures!

I have tried to run various free antivirus programs on my machine, too. One or two of them had no silent mode. So, whatever happened in my PC, they always show notifications. Only if I paid for the pro version, I would be able to eliminate those annoying notifications. The most annoying pop-up was the upgrade offerings or “did you know” separated window—especially when I accessed the main GUI of this program such as for manual scanning.

I also have tried free antivirus that required broadband internet connection just to update its 140s MB of virus signatures. It did slow-down my machine and I couldn’t access its online forum after posted several questions about its product. In fact, its game mode and sand-boxing feature were really “rare items” that could be found in free antivirus.

Another free antivirus always suggested me to “unplug” my machine from my local network at home (it said that my computer might be in danger). In fact, it was only 2 computers with no internet connection! Actually, it was a good free antivirus because it did a “disinfection” procedure to USB flash-drives I attached and it had 2 engines—combining 2 great engines from different antivirus vendors!

I have been so tired of searching for “perfect” free antivirus for my home PC. So, when I found that Avast! was so useful and helpful, I started to recommend anyone—with the need of light-but-sharp reliable antivirus—to use Avast! and no more doubt, I said. I could suggest you up to 10 free antivirus programs that you must or want to try. But, why should you spend your precious time to do a self-test while you can always have a sit (and relax) and let Avast! protects you. It’s simple, intuitive, light, powerful, and free. So that’s why, millions of users trust on Avast! and Avast! won awards often.

If you find this article is not objective, please refer to this page. And if you want to know my machine’s specifications (Windows), please read it here. Thank you for reading 🙂

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Posted on August 3, 2014, in Antivirus and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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