Avast! Free Antivirus

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Description

Avast! Free Antivirus comes at no cost, and with a thirty day free trial. At the expiration of the 30 day free trial, users can either register to continue using the software free of charge, or can pay for an upgrade to Avast! Pro Antivirus or Avast! Internet Security.

Features

The product blocks viruses and spyware, and is well designed, incorporating a modern look to make it aesthetically pleasing. There is also a clean, modern feel to the software, which in my opinion makes it easy to use. The home screen has titles such as ‘Scan’ and ‘Software Update’, which make the software even easier to use. There is a title on the home screen which informs the user of their protection status; this only adds to the modern feel of the product.

As mentioned previously, Avast! Free Antivirus includes both antivirus and anti spyware protection; a firewall, alongside other protective tools, are not included in this free software. A VPN tool is included in the free software package, but once more, the user is charged extra to use this service. A browser cleanup tool is included, which allows the user to remove annoying toolbars and other things such as web history and cookies; a site blocking tool is also incorporated, allowing the customer to block access to certain websites.
This tool is especially useful for users who have children who also access their PC. There is also a remote access tool included, however this is only available for use in part by free customers. In order to take full advantage of this tool, a user must again pay the extra fee or upgrade.

Comparison

I compared Avast! Free Antivirus to several of its opponents; here, we focus on Microsoft Security Essentials. Microsoft Security Essentials is totally free of charge, and all of its perks can be taken advantage of at no extra cost. Here, Avast comes up slightly short as, in spite of it being initially a free product with the thirty day trial, as mentioned before the user must pay to upgrade in order to take full advantage of the services it provides. While the free Avast product offers protection only from viruses and spyware, in addition to ‘allowing remote assistance from a geek friend’, Microsoft Security Essentials is ‘free and comprehensive’ and can be used by all Microsoft customers.

The free Avast product offers very good dual virus and spyware protection to remove all types of existing viruses and spyware, and block threats, to keep computers and their data safe. In comparison, Microsoft Security Essentials also offers great dual protection in terms of spyware and viruses. Avast gains the upper hand on Microsoft Security Essentials in the area of zero-day threats, however; during tests in 2012, Microsoft Security Essentials missed over 10% of known zero-day threats, causing some users to be dissuaded from using it. Avast offers very good protection from zero-day threats. Microsoft Security Essentials is user friendly and very light on resources; Avast is also very user friendly, but many experienced users report that it is not as light on computer resources.

A portion of users experienced crashing or freezing problems with their computers having installed Avast, where users of Microsoft Security Essentials did not report such issues. Installation of Microsoft Security Essentials is also very quick in comparison to Avast. Microsoft Security Essentials has real time scanning, anti phishing, anti spam, online banking protection, data shredding and an array of other features as it is a complete security suite. Its alert level system lets the user know when a threat is mild, severe or which has the highest risk and so should be removed immediately. Avast, however, does not possess any such system to alert the user to the severity of a threat. Neither product is known to affect computer performance, but Avast has been reported to slow down the user’s PC or cause freeze or crash problems during scans or update downloads. Overall, I can conclude that all things considered, they are more or less equal.

Overall I think the software is very useful in protection from viruses and spyware, as has been exemplified in this review, despite the several shortfalls it has in my opinion when held in comparison to its rivals. It is free to use, for the most part, which is where it has an upper hand on most of its rivals; its cost of nothing makes it the perfect choice for schools and other educational facilities, who require very cheap protection for their computers which are used by a great number of students at any one time. Particularly in schools with younger children in attendance, the site blocking feature is especially useful, for instance when the child’s curious mind takes him to inappropriate places on the Internet.

Conclusion

While it is true that the user has to pay to upgrade to take full advantage of the software’s features, I believe that upgrade is not completely necessary, due to the large number of tools which are already available for free; this, and the modern, user friendly aesthetics of the software are the features which I think give it great appeal to customers. On balance, I have formed an opinion of this product that it is solid, useful, very cost effective and very good in every area which it tries to be.

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