• Gaming mode to avoid interruptions
  • Low system impact
  • Includes Password manager
  • Runs on: mac | windows | android | iOS​

Summary

The free antivirus product from Avast has a clean, simple interface that works well on desktops and touchscreen devices. The Smart Scan feature is comprehensive and easy to access. Advanced users can customize scans and view information about detected threats.

Setup

Users must register to use Avast every year. A straightforward setup process only prompts average users to select a language for the user interface. Power users can specify which components to install and where to locate the installation folder.

Security Alerts

The interface displays alerts on the Status display and in pop-ups. Potentially unwanted applications are not blocked by default, but download protection can be enabled in settings. Both malware and download alerts appear as popups.

Other Points of Interest

  • Avast Free Antivirus attempts to install a Secure Browser.
  • An audio alert accompanies security notifications.
  • Users have the option to switch to pirate talk, a mode in which Auto-Cleanup becomes “Swabbin’ the deck”; a few other prompts are also rephrased.
  • Learn more about this program on the Avast website: https://www.avast.com/en-us/index.

Usability Report

Avast is easy to install and use. Most users will be able to access all the functions they need from the main interface. Little customization is necessary to protect a computer or device. 

This free program pushes advertisements for other Avast products and upgrades. The installer will attempt to install a Secure Browser. An offer for a discounted price for the first year of the paid version appears immediately after installation. The program also displays an offer for a discounted version of Avast Internet Security.

The main interface is dark gray with bright green and purple accents. A sidebar allows users to toggle between “Status,” “Protection,” “Privacy,” and “Performance.” It is easy to run a “Smart Scan” to identify security, privacy and performance issues with a single click. This scan also looks for out-of-date software, but it may not catch every outdated version.

Threats detected during a scan may open multiple pop-up notifications, each of which presents another “Scan My PC” option. These dialogs may be confusing and will prevent interaction with the main interface. Advanced users can expand notifications to view more information.

Users who disable real-time protection will see an alert. If they choose to “Ignore” this notification, the status display will say that “You’re protected” even though real-time protection is not active. If protection is permanently disabled, this setting will carry over through a reboot and may mislead users. It is also possible to see a “No Viruses Found” status in the main window and a threat secured or malware treated popup at the same time.

Most paid-only options are marked with a padlock symbol. Others, such as SecureLine VPN, AntiTrack Premium and Cleanup Premium, do not bear this symbol. Attempts to access these features lead to free trial options or “Buy Now” screens.

Pros

  • Some heuristic or behavioral protection for applications
  • “Wi-Fi Inspector” scans any type of network
  • Gaming mode to avoid interruptions
  • Low system impact
  • Password manager

Cons

  • Annual registration required
  • Ads and popups
  • Some contradictory notifications
  • No logging function