Avast Antivirus Review 2021

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Avast Antivirus Review 2021

What is Avast Antivirus?

avast antivirus review 2020
avast antivirus review 2021

Avast Antivirus is a product of Avast Software s.r.o, a Czech multinational cybersecurity software company. Avast Software has been around since 1988. Avast is the second-largest antivirus solution provider with more than 435 million monthly active members as of April 2021. Avast Software also purchased the AVG TECHNOLOGIES back in 2017.AVG was the third-largest antivirus solution provider at the time.

Avast Antivirus Free version comes with an extensive collection of bonus features to ensure security.

Avast scored an Advanced + rating from the AV-Comparatives test, recently.

AV-Test Institute also reviewed Avast Antivirus and gave it a place among the other top performers with excellent scores.

SE Labs also gave the Avast Antivirus a AAA certification.

Avast provides antivirus solutions at four levels.

The free antivirus program, a more powerful feature-packed commercial antivirus, and cross-platform security all-rounder.

Avast Antivirus free provides security for Windows and macOS only. Avast Premium Security provides all the features of Avast Premier and Avast Internet Security packages.

Avast Premium Security provides all the cross-platform security solutions and offers rich protection for Windows and Android devices. macOS and iOS devices are also getting a decent amount of security when using this suite.

Avast Antivirus Offer 

The features of Avast Antivirus Premium

The Avast Antivirus Premium is a full-scale all-around antivirus solution. It comes with a powerful firewall, a spam filter, and many security features.

Avast Antivirus Premium also supports cross-platform protection, a feature not available on the free antivirus program.

The user interface is similar to the one found on the Avast Antivirus Free package. The main status page features the current status of your device. If everything works fine, then you would be greeted with a “You’re protected” alert. On the status page, the Smart Scan option is provided, and with a single click, you could launch the scanning program.

protection avast antivirus premium 2020
protection avast antivirus premium 2021

Protection, Privacy, and Performance pages list all the settings and features that you will ever need. Unlike the free version of the Avast Antivirus, all the suite specific features are accessible.

Antivirus protection

Avast Antivirus Premium comes with a powerful anti-malware engine and provides excellent protection. The additional bonus features further improve the overall digital experience while enhancing security.

SE Labs gave it a AAA level certification, the highest rating given by the company.

AV-Test Institute gave the Avast Antivirus an excellent 17.5/18.

AV-Comparatives offered it an Advanced + rating in three different tests, the highest possible rating offered by the institution.

When testing the latest batch of malicious URL samples obtained from the MRG-Effitas, the Avast antivirus was capable of handling every one of them perfectly well. Most of the URLs were blocked from access, others were given access but the malicious payloads were annihilated before they could become a possible threat. 90% of the URLs were registered as malicious and none of the URLs were able to upload a malicious payload to our system.

To test the reaction speed of the antivirus measures against unwanted applications or malware from a pre-defined database and the solution for the aforementioned security vulnerability.

This is why I use an EICAR file to test antivirus capabilities. The EICAR file was identified and quarantined within a matter of seconds from the moment it was saved.

avast antivirus pro 2020 EICAR
avast antivirus pro 2021 EICAR

Avast Antivirus Premium then offers several options like Delete, Repair, Chest, or Nothing to choose from.

It is recommended to choose the delete option as it is possibly harmful to your device security. However, if the infected file is one that you cannot afford to lose, then try to repair it.

Ignore option cannot be recommended as the false detection of a program as harmful is almost not existent. If a file or program is flagged as potentially harmful, then it is surely harmful.

Anti-phishing protection.

Phishing websites mimic the appearance and behavior of social media websites, dating websites, gaming, shopping, or financial websites to trick users to provide login credentials. Most of the time, the scammers are using emails and popup ads to lure the netizens to these scam sites.

The stolen credentials are then used to get access to financial or private information.

To provide anti-phishing protection, Avast Antivirus is using a browser-independent Web Shield and an online Security browsing extension for Chrome and Firefox. The user has to use both the Web Shield and Online Security browser extension to ensure the best possible protection against phishing attempts.

All the phishing websites were blocked from access with a popup notification of “infected with URL Phishing” or “This Website is Unsafe”.

Real Site feature

avast antivirus real site
avast antivirus real site

The Real Site feature makes sure that you have redirected to the correct website in case you misspelling a popular domain name. Most of the phishing websites are using slightly different domain names to lure netizens. SiteCorrect website keeps the user safe from scam websites with the help of this tool.

Scanning tools

Smart Scan on the status page of the Avast Antivirus lets the user scan the system with a single tap of the button. The Smart Scan checks the system for browser vulnerabilities, lack of security patches for installed applications, detecting active malware, etc.

avast antivirus free scan
avast antivirus free scan

The Avast Antivirus Premium provides all the solutions and applies them automatically to provide the best protection and user experience possible.

Scans and Scan variants

scan variants avast antivirus 2020
scan variants avast antivirus 2021

Avast provides a Smart Scan feature in the Status screen. It quickly checks for active malware and other browser threats. It also provides updates for the installed apps to eliminate more than 90% of the cyber attacks. Smart Scan is a good way to check the entire system and during this scan, every major issue is identified and these issues can be regarding viruses, malware, lack of latest software patches for hardware, out of date applications, applications provided by unknown 3rd parties, other software vulnerabilities, vulnerabilities regarding browser addons, suspicious behavior of browser addons, performance-related issues, weak passwords, and even network problems.

The protection page provides four other scan variants other than the Smart Scan. These are Quick Scan, USB/DVD Scan, Folder Scan, Boot-time Scan, and Custom Scan options. The previous year’s version came with the Full Virus Scan, Targeted Scan, Boot-Time Scan, and Custom Scans.

The Smart Scan ends up scanning your entire PC to eliminate any residing risks.

Folder Scan provides the option to scan specific folders or external drivers.

Boot Time Scan provides the capability of scanning for threats before Windows Starts up. This is designed to eliminate persistent malware that can survive a normal cleanup. Boot Time Scan runs before Windows boots up so the Windows-based malware doesn’t have any chance to take active measures to protect itself.

Once the scanning is over, the system will boot up and you will be able to use it as usual, because the malware threats are removed and all the issues caused by them are fixed by now.

Boot Time Scan is a high resource hungry process and can take multiple hours to complete the scan. This is similar to Bitdefender’s Rescue Mode.

USB/DVD Scan option allows you to scan all the removable media attached to your PC at the time.

Custom Scans help you to craft your own scans.

Wi-Fi Inspector.

Avast Antivirus is one of the first security products to come with an inbuilt network security scanner. The Wi-Fi scanner could be used to report on all devices connected to any network despite it being wired or wireless. It flags devices with security problems and provides solutions to fix those issues.

This Wi-Fi inspector doesn’t take much time to identify errors and vulnerabilities. It warns of possible threats like the visibility of HTTPS ports on the router. The solutions were the suggestion to install AvastSecureLine VPN and to open router settings to modify them.

Sometimes the devices are listed with the vendor assigned name, not the custom name you have provided for it. However, Avast provides the user with valuable device information such as IP Address and MAC address. You can assign a custom name to all devices to make them more recognizable.

The functionality of this feature is equal to the way Bitdefender Home Scanner works.

Firewall

Avast Antivirus provides a robust firewall to make sure that the installed programs are not using the internet resources to transmit information from outsides or from inside to the outside. Avast Antivirus actively monitors all the communications of the installed apps and terminates any suspicious transmission and alerts the user about that.

Avast Antivirus hides all the ports by putting them all in stealth mode to keep them invisible for the outsiders.

You can put everything related to firewalls in autopilot mode by selecting the Auto-decide option for the programs with no defined rules. Doing so results in Avast creating rules for those components in Auto decide mode, thus eliminating popup messages asking the user to decide.

Avast also defined five levels of network access and suggests a default level.

Avast Antivirus also allows the user to access a list of applications. The user can then change the allowed or denied access status as he/she wishes.

Unlike many competitors, Avast Antivirus further allows the user to meddle with advanced firewall settings. Unless you are a network security expert, I should recommend refraining from changing those settings.

Ransomware Shield

Sometimes malware can slip past real-time protection protocols resulting in encryption or corruption of files or applications before being terminated. The complete removal of malware can avoid further corruption or encryption of sensitive data, but once the damage is done, it is hard to recover already corrupted or encrypted information.

This is why it is necessary to use antivirus software with ransomware protection. The Ransomware shield provides an extra layer of security and blocks all the unauthorized modification of files in protected files.

It also provides protection for the Desktop, user files, and documents folders for all users. All the other important files in separate folders can be protected by adding them to the protected list.

The supported file extensions by default are Archive, audio file formats, video file formats, databases, disc images, office documents, and picture file formats. Users can add any file type that doesn’t appear in the default list.

When a program attempts to modify any protected file, the Ransomware shield checks the program and its behavior against its cloud database of known ransomware programs. If the program is unknown, the user is informed via a notification, and the user can either allow or block the app.

The anti-phishing measures also foil DNS poisoning attacks.

Spam Filter.

The major email providers such as Gmail, yahoo mail, Yandex mail, and outlook has taken active measures to block spam messages. These service providers are capable of detecting and blocking almost all spam messages. However, having a local spam filter can provide an extra layer of security in case of the failure of the email service provider.

The Spam filter checks all the incoming POP3 and IMAP traffic and marks spam and phishing messages by modifying the subject line with relevant keywords.

Microsoft Outlook filters any type of email account and automatically moves the spam to the spam folder. Users can set message rules to divert marked messages to a specific folder in case of using a different email client.

Tolerance towards spam messages can be modified by going to the Privacy page. The user is then given the option to set the anti-spam sensitivity slider in or in between Strict mode or No mercy settings.

The user can blacklist or white list known correspondents.

Sensitive Data Shield

Avast Antivirus provides reactive and proactive measurements to eliminate any data-stealing Trojans and other malware, but in case of a Trojan or any malware being active in the system for sometime before getting caught for good, the Sensitive Data Shield feature ensures that even such a Trojan won’t be able to steal data.

Software Updater

The software updater feature improves overall system security by checking whether the software applications are up to date. Avast then provides the information regarding all the applications that haven’t been up to date. Avast provides the capability to directly update these apps via its interface.

The user can set the software update tool to update each and every software one by one in real-time. To make this happen, go to Protection -> Software updater and select the Automatic updates option.

Password manager

avast antivirus password manager
avast antivirus password manager

The Avast password manager is implemented as an extension for Chrome and Firefox web browsers.

Avast Password Manager handles all the basic features provided by a password manager software, but unlike many others, Avast doesn’t make it mandatory to create a master password.

Creating a master password is a must to protect your passwords from third parties.

When filling up a signup form, the password manager gives suggestions to avoid common mistakes such as the usage of common words and tips to enter a more secure password. Avast offers to save login credentials.

If you have multiple accounts, you can click on a little key icon in the username field to select the user name of your preference. Many other password managers provide logins in a menu, but the  Avast password manager provides credentials for a website in a pop-up window.

You can also use the random password generator feature to get a 15 character unique password using letters and digits.

Avast password manager provides the facility to import already stored in Chrome or Firefox passwords. However, it doesn’t provide notifications about the vulnerabilities residing in imported passwords.

Data Shredder

The Windows Recycle Bin allows the user to get rid of a certain digital file permanently and to restore them without permanently deleting them. Sometimes using good recovery software, anyone could recover an already deleted file, because the data isn’t truly destroyed and remains in the same data clusters it used to inhabit before. The only difference being the data clusters now have a flag marking them as available for reuse. A proper recovery tool such as the Easeus recovery tool can easily recover the destroyed document.

This is where the Avast Data Shredder comes to importance. To destroy a file, the user can right-click and choose Shred using Avast from the popup menu. After confirming your intention to do so, Avast Data Shredder overwrites its data clusters with random bits before deletion, thus eliminating the success of a recovery tool to recover certain files.

Avast also lets the user overwrite all unused disc space with random bits to effectively shred all previously deleted files to make them non-recoverable. It then overwrites the unused space at the end of each file’s last data cluster.  File Shredding can take much time as it is using a big amount of processing and hard drive processing power to do so.

Avast also offers the option to shred entire hard drives to wipe it clean all the personal data.

Webcam Protection.

The webcam is a must for any modern-day computer setup and it plays a pivotal role in internet-based communications and video capturing. Despite all the positive features it provides, malware and spyware could access webcams to spy on your activities. The hackers could use backdoors and vulnerabilities of other programs to gain access to the webcams.

Avast Antivirus provides a Webcam shield to monitor the usage of webcam. The default Smart mode allows the known and trusted programs to use the webcam but asks the user permission before letting the unknown programs from accessing the camera.

The strict level blocks even the trusted applications and won’t allow the use of webcam unless the user confirms they are allowed.

No Mercy option disables the webcam completely.

Sandbox Option

avast antivirus premium sandbox
avast antivirus premium sandbox

Avast provides a virtual environment to execute suspicious files and to monitor its behavior. Running the suspicious file in a sandbox eliminates any chance of permanent changes to the file system or registry. Users can run any file by dragging the executable extension and dropping it in the Sandbox. Settings let the user choose whether sandboxed applications can access the internet or whether the downloaded files should be saved outside the sandbox.

Game mode

avast antivirus game-mode
avast antivirus game-mode

The Game mode disables all the popup notifications unless it is about a potential risk. This also stops system resource hungry processes like Scanning in the background until the user quits from the full-screen application that they are using. This mode is useful for Graphic Designers and Gamers as it is reducing the loading processes of other applications in the background.

Game mode can be activated manually or automatically.

Rescue Disc

The Rescue Disc feature is capable of creating and running the antivirus in order to remove unwanted infections caused by malware and viruses. The rescue disk can be either a USB device or a DVD.

In case of a catastrophic system-wide malware infestation, the user can use the Rescue Disc to scan the computer and to remove or fix all the corrupted files.

It only takes a few minutes to create a Rescue Disc and this feature will help you to avoid a big amount of time that otherwise would be wasted on formatting and reinstalling the operating system. It is recommended to create a Rescue Disc after installing the latest Avast Antivirus version to ensure more security.

Additional optional paid extras.

Avast Cleanup Premium.

avast cleanup premium
avast cleanup premium

The Avast Cleanup Premium scans your system for useless and corrupted file and registry items to improve overall system performance by removing the useless system files and registry entries. The scanning process is free and provides you a list of all the useless registry entries and files.  However, to resolve the issues, you have to pay an extra $2.99 per month.

protection avast antivirus premium 2020
protection avast antivirus premium 2021

The scanning process takes only a couple of minutes and once it is done, Avast will display the identified issues and offers solutions to fix them.

Driver Updater

Driver Updater requires a separate installation, and after its runs you will get to know about all the problems regarding installed applications. However, to fix them automatically, you have to pay an additional $2 per month.

AntiTrack Premium

AntiTrack premium is based on the TrackOFF, another software product owned by Avast Software. This feature allows you to hide your browser footprint to avoid getting tracked. This is done by reducing the amount of information your web browser shares with the websites. This will cost you another $1.5 per month.

Avast SecureLine VPN

Avast SecureLine VPN comes with a seven day to a 60-day free trial to test it out. However, after the end of the trial, you have to pay an extra $2.89 per month for its subscription.  Avast SecureLine VPN provides more than 60 server locations to choose from.

All these features are providing an improved online presence and an extra layer of security, but the standard Avast Antivirus Premium offers a decent amount of protection and can protect you from almost all cyber threats.

Avast Secure Browser

This product was previously known as the SafeZone. Avast Secure Browser is a Chromium-based browser with many inbuilt security features to provide maximum security against cyber threats.

The Avast Secure Browser also comes with all the features offered by Avast Online Security. Avast Secure Browser is capable of blocking ads and flash content. It also prevents the installation of dangerous connections whenever possible.

By accessing its security center page, you can launch an antivirus scan, access the password manager, clear browsing history, or can switch to stealth mode.

You can also install Avast SecureLine VPN through the security center page.

Bank Mode

Avast Secure Browser also comes with a Bank Mode. The Bank Mode opens a new browser window on a separate desktop. This is isolated from processes running on the desktop and provides protection against keyloggers or screenshot capturing.

This feature allows you to switch from regular and protected desktops without much hassle.

One of the most interesting features of the Avast Secure browser is the ability to hide your browser fingerprint.

Despite the browser that you are using, one and every one of the major browsers provides a big amount of information to websites. This information in return is used to tune up the SEO of the pages the user is viewing. However, this information can also be processed into a browser fingerprint, a unique way to track your online presence.

Avast randomize what the browser reports to hide browser fingerprint to provide a safer online presence.

A Tip to save money

However, if you are planning to buy these additional services, take some time to consider this.

Avira Prime offers all the premium Avira products including the above-mentioned ones for just $99.99 per year and provides protection for five devices simultaneously. All the existing products and new coming ones are available for your use.

Avast Ultimate bundle provides a single license subscription to Avast Premier and the paid versions of the Avast SecureLine VPN, Cleanup Premium, and Password manager. This package is available for $99.99 per year and provides the best value for the money as it would have cost you more than $200 to purchase each and every one of the products separately.

Avast Antivirus Offer 

Avast Antivirus protection for Android OS.

Avast Antivirus provides many security features for the Windows application and almost all those features are also present in the application for Android. The android application also comes with anti-security, anti-theft, performance enhancement, and more features.

The Avast Antivirus Free for Android comes with advertisements. It also provides a demo of the Photo Vault and allows the user to store up to ten images. All the performance-enhancing features are available with the free variant.

The Avast Antivirus Premium for Android comes with all the features of the free version, App Lock, and an integrated VPN. It also features RAM boost, Junk file cleaning, Wi-Fi Scanning tool, and many other privacy-oriented features.

Scans allow the user to check for malware in the installed applications and it also detects device settings that might make your Android device vulnerable to cyber threats. Avast Antivirus for Android also provides the user information regarding potentially unwanted programs and applications with a limited reputation.

Avast Antivirus also scans all the executable and nonexecutable files to identify possible malware. Automatic scans can be scheduled.

You can check the status of Wi-Fi security or speed from the menu as well.

Anti Theft for Android

Theft or loss of an Android device is a massive risk that many users face every day and it is considered a bigger worry than the possibility of a malware infestation or ransomware infestation.

This is why Avast Antivirus has provided an Anti-theft tool. From the settings, the user can receive the current location of the device and can set it to regularly send updates of the current location of the device.

Users can also set off a siren or remotely lock the device. Wipeout data of the device remotely is also an extremely valuable option to ensure privacy.

Users can use commands to copy the contacts and files from a remote location before commencing the wipeout sequence.

The user can further access the web camera, main camera, and microphone to record audio or video to spy on the thief.

The device also automatically takes a photo using the front camera after eight failed login attempts.

The Avast Antivirus automatically activates the lock mode if the thief changes the SIM card and the user is also capable of activating lock mode remotely by marking the phone as lost. Marking a device as lost, locks the device, captures a photo of the thief, and sounds a siren.

App control.

The app locking feature is recommended by Avast Antivirus as it gives the user better control over the accessibility to certain apps. This feature lets the user put selected apps behind a secondary pin code to prevent other users from accessing them. This feature is helpful to keep social media and messenger apps like Whatsapp, Viber, and Facebook.

Check Connection Speed

Check Speed button runs a simple test to measure the device’s upload and download speeds on the current network.

Photo Vault

The Photo vault feature allows the user to put selected photos into an encrypted storage and the user could add photos to the vault from existing images or save pictures directly into the vault.

Uninstalling Avast Antivirus before importing the pictures from the vault can cause permanent loss of those images.

Boost RAM

The boost RAM simply eliminates useless background tasks to free up more RAM space.

Clean Junk

Avast Antivirus finds and deletes useless system and registry entries to free up more memory and to improve overall system performance.

Firewall

To enable firewalls, the user has to root their device.

VPN

The VPN doesn’t seem to have any bandwidth cap. The user is allowed to choose from over 60 server locations.

Avast Antivirus protection for macOS

Avast Premium Security subscription provides multi-platform protection for up to 10 devices running on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. However, Avast Premium Security for macOS doesn’t come with all the features that you get with the windows application. macOS application comes with a simplified version of the Wi-Fi inspector tool. Ransomware Shield works only in the Windows application.

Avast Antivirus for iOS

Apple provides a decent level of security for its devices and takes action to keep malicious software at bay and consistently interferes with low-level security software.

The VPN service doesn’t come with any bandwidth cap.

The VPN doesn’t allow the user to choose a specific server location and makes its own choice all by itself. The only option the user has regarding the VPN is either to turn on or turn off the service.

Avast Antivirus Impact on system performance.

The Avast Antivirus has minimum impact on overall system performance and it is barely noticeable of any performance drag when using the system for day to day activities. However, system boot-up times are slightly affected after the installation of Avast Antivirus but this cannot be considered as a negative point as its effect on user experience is negligible.

Running a Full virus Scan or a Boot-time scan can significantly slow down the system as a big amount of processing power is used to monitor and take necessary actions to remove malware.

I used a laptop with a 2nd gen i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 512GB hard disc. The performance lag was insignificant considering the fact that the device I used is 7 years old.

Pros of Avast Antivirus Premium

  • Provides cross-platform protection for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices.
  • A powerful robust firewall.
  • Easy to use spam filters.
  • Android device security.
  • Ransomware protection.

Cons of Avast Antivirus Premium

  • Some bonus features require separate payments.

 

Avast Antivirus Free version

The Avast Antivirus Free version comes with the following features.

  • an integrated password manager with limited features.
  •  browser-independent protection against malicious URLs. Full protection is provided only with Chrome and Firefox browsers.
  • Network security inspector.
  • Security-related bonus features etc. Some bonus features require a separate purchase.

The Avast Antivirus Free version also scored good results from independent testing labs and independent research groups.

Avast Antivirus Free offers full-scale antivirus protection along with the network security scanner to further increase protection. This variant is only available for personal use only and to secure a business setting, the user has to purchase the Avast Premium Security.

It was also able to block malicious URLs provided by the MRG-Effitas, one of the leading cybersecurity firms in the business. Most of the malicious URLs were blocked before the page loaded, some were allowed access but the malicious payloads were prevented from entering. Some URLs were not registered as malicious.

It also provides excellent phishing protection and blocks all the fake websites pretending to be social media websites or financial websites. Avast blocked many scam websites and reported the page was “infected with URL Phishing” or “This Website is Unsafe”.

Do Not Disturb mode.

When the Do Not Disturb mode is active, the antivirus postpones scheduled scans and provides only the most critical notifications. This mode allows you to avoid interruptions when playing computer games or when using heavy system resource hungry software like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Premier.

 

System requirements and installation process.

Avast is one of the least demanding antivirus solution providers in the market. It only needs 1.5 GB of free hard disk space and at least 256mb of RAM.

Operating systems compatible with Avast Antivirus are as follows.

Windows XP SP3, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, or Windows 10.

The installation process is easy and intuitive. After the installation is complete, you are required to enter the license details in order to fully activate the antivirus program. But, you can test it for 30 days if you want to before making the purchase.

Customer Support

Customer Support was fast and very professional. McAfee provides top customer support services to ensure customer satisfaction.

 

Avast Antivirus Price and Packaging

avast antivirus premium user interface
avast antivirus premium user interface

Avast Premium for one PC is only $39.99 per year.

Avast Premium Security package provides cross-platform protection for ten devices for only $89.99 per year. The first year is having a cost of only $49.99.

Avira prime package provides security for 5 devices for $99.99 per year. Up to 25 devices can be protected for $129.99 per year.

All these packages provide cross-platform protection and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee to eliminate risks.

 

Avast Antivirus Offer 

 

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