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Fans of both companies can rest easy; there’s no plan to merge them into a single product. Both have many thousands of users worldwide, but each is strong in geographical areas where the other isn’t. And the underlying antivirus engine is exactly the same in Avast and AVG AntiVirus Free , as demonstrated in my tests and independent lab tests.
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Avast Free Antivirus

AVAST Software Avast’s Free Antivirus costs nothing, but it does an excellent imitation of a security suite, tossing in a password manager, a hardened browser, a gaming mode and a Wi-Fi scanner.

It also works with all recent Windows versions and lets you customize the program to suit your computing style. On the downside, Avast’s malware defenses are a rung below the best, and you’ll have to suffer through long scans and deal with its complicated interface.

It also collects and sells your search and browsing history to third parties — although you can opt out to some extent — and shows you ads for other Avast products. It’s almost a free security suite, what with the extra features we’ve already mentioned. But if you want a firewall, file encryption or a file shredder, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid product. Avast Internet Security provides a firewall and extra ransomware protection that automatically duplicates key files during an attack.

For the same price, Bitdefender Total Security Family Pack offers unlimited device coverage, including software for Macs and Android devices, with similar features and better malware protection. The second layer monitors activity and code snippets to look for indications of a malware attack. Finally, anything suspicious gets sent to Avast’s cloud lab for analysis, and if it is confirmed as malicious, a new malware signature is sent out to the company’s million users.

Avast Free Antivirus includes browser add-ons for Chrome and Firefox that steer you away from dangerous pages. It also scans email attachments for dangerous software. The engine does a decent but unspectacular job, according to three of the four testing labs whose results we use.

Our own lab in Utah measures how well antivirus products protect against and block malicious websites, and it gave Avast Free Antivirus a 98 percent rating in tests during the first half of Avast’s malware-detection engine does a decent but unspectacular job, according to three of the four testing labs whose results we use. Avast Free Antivirus did well on Windows 7, catching percent of both kinds of malware in January and February , but racked up seven “false positives” — exactly the same as AVG Internet Security.

Avast didn’t do as well on Windows In March and April , it stopped only Avast fared better with widespread malware, detecting percent in March and Another round of Windows 10 tests showed a partial improvement by Avast, as its program detected all zero-day and widespread malware in May , and all widespread malware in June, though it blocked only Avast registered one false positive during both months.

Over six monthly tests, its software averaged Avast got 10 false positives over six months. Bitdefender led the way here, with an average detection rate of That was behind the ratings of most of the other free antivirus brands. Avast failed to spot five out of attacks, and couldn’t stop four more, leading to nine infections overall.

Even AVG did better, tying Avira at 94 percent. Kaspersky led the free pack with 99 percent. Security and Privacy Features Avast’s SafeZone secure browser, part of Free Antivirus, can keep your wallet secure by limiting add-ons while blocking ads and suspicious sites. Its Bank Mode isolates the browser from the rest of the system to thwart nosy malware. The Wi-Fi Inspector scans your local network for flaws such as weak passwords, incorrect settings or outdated firmware.

Avast’s Privacy Policy notes that if you search for items in the Secure Browser, ‘you consent to having your search query and history transmitted to third-party search providers and to being redirected to third-party sites. Performance and System Impact Avast’s Free Antivirus tended to use too many of our system’s resources during active scans, which took a long time.

To check system performance, we used our custom benchmark test, which times how long it takes the CPU to match 20, names and 20, addresses in an OpenOffice spreadsheet. Before we installed Avast Free Antivirus, we established a baseline of an average of 6 minutes and 54 seconds to finish the OpenOffice benchmark.

Completion time rose to an average of 7: That’s a little worse than AVG and Bitdefender’s 5 percent declines, but better than Panda and especially Avira, whose 9.

Kaspersky was the champion, slowing the Asus by only 2. During Avast’s full scan, the OpenOffice completion time stretched to 8: Only Avira Free Antivirus did worse, with a full-scan slowdown of a whopping 35 percent. Smart Scan, Avast’s term for a quick scan, put less stress on the system, letting the OpenOffice task finish in 8: But that system mpact was still heavier than all except Avira.

AVG and Panda tied for best with quick-scan impacts of 7. Avast Free Antivirus took an average of 1 hour and 42 minutes to look at , files on our Asus. That wasn’t as long as Bitdefender’s initial 2-hour-andminute scan, but Avast’s scan times didn’t decline with subsequent runs. Interface Avast’s main interface window has the standard green check mark next to the words “You’re Protected. There’s a button to start a Smart Scan, which checks for malware, weak passwords and vulnerable software as well as network and performance problems.

Three clicks away are the Protection settings, which let you start a full scan, scan specific folders or run a boot-up or custom scan. You can scan any single item by right-clicking it in Windows Explorer. You can schedule scans to run daily, weekly or monthly. Avast’s interface is both complex and customizable. You can turn off or adjust just about every tool, from web shields to Browser Cleanup.

The more you dig, the more opportunities there are for personalization. If the program becomes too intrusive, you can adjust the aggressiveness of the scanning or try Avast’s Game Mode.

Avast’s Task Tray icon lets you update the software, temporarily disable protection, peek into the quarantine area or switch to the secure browser. We got to choose from 48 languages, including Pirate Talk; whether to make SafeZone our default browser; and whether to install the Avast app on an Android device.

By default, Avast Free Antivirus collects data about your browsing behavior and sells it to third parties. While there, you might want to turn off Avast’s pop-up ads as well; you’ll still get ads for upgrades on the program’s main page, though.

There’s no need to set up an online Avast account, but if you do, you can remotely control some aspects of the company’s mobile apps and also use the Privacy Portal. Avast Free Antivirus’ users get neither phone nor email support.

You’ll need to check the company’s forums, FAQs, installation tips and knowledge base to fix any problem. Bottom Line Avast Free Antivirus offers more features than other free AV products and comes close to a full security suite. Its protection is OK, but it’s a step behind the best. In addition, Avast’s program can slow the system a bit more than necessary, and its privacy policies leave something to be desired. Tom’s Guide.

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