Avast Antivirus 2021 Review: Does Avast Really Protect?

Even if you’re up for a fight, shielding your PC from cyberthreats requires some backup. Luckily, there’s an entire industry dedicated to protecting your browsing experience and downloads from all kinds of online threats and malware. 

The following article evaluates the level of protection offered by one of the market’s more popular antivirus software options. Our Avast antivirus review will tell you everything you need to know about the efficiency of the service while providing a comprehensive overview of its many features.

PROS:

  • Free version
  • Blocks over 1.5 billion threats per month
  • Advanced security features
  • Easy to navigate
  • High scores in antivirus endpoint protection tests
  • Compatible with Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android

CONS:

  • Advanced features require paid subscription
  • History with sharing user data
  • Paid plans have low value for money
Rating9.0
Efficiency9.0
Security9.5
Ease of use10.0
Platforms9.0
Free version10.0
Value for money9.0

What is Avast used for?

Avast is one of the most prominent brands within the antivirus software industry, with 435 million monthly active users. Based on market share, Avast was the second-largest Windows antivirus provider in 2020, which underscores both the level of quality and dedication. 

Avast offers multiple products, a lot of which require a paid subscription. But there is also a free Avast Antivirus for PC or mobile devices, which comes with the most essential protection tools. You won’t exactly get the full-scale protection for free, but this is still a better option than what some of the competition offers.

The free Avast virus protection blocks everything from ransomware to malware. And just like one of its key competitors, McAfee, it also provides a network security scanner and browser protection through the use of a free VPN. However, unlike Avast, McAfee only offers a 30-day trial period without an actual free version of the software.   

Security Features

Of course, the list of features and any additional perks depends on whether you choose the free version or sign up for the premium package. Whatever you choose, each version offers a pretty effective antivirus. In our Avast antivirus review, we’ll take a closer look at both the free and paid features to get a more comprehensive picture of the service. 

Virus Scans

Avasts’ approach to dealing with computer viruses centers on prevention and detection. The idea is to identify the threats before they get anywhere near your system. Of course, the software also scans your devices and removes any malicious code that’s already there. 

By running the Avast Smart Scan, you’ll enable the software to perform a quick check for active malware. But it also looks for browser threats and other potential vulnerabilities. These include: 

  • Hidden viruses that can impact the security and performance of your device
  • Vulnerable software that bad actors can exploit to gain access to your system 
  • Bad browser add-ons that are installed without your approval 
  • Questionable search engines that can compromise your privacy
  • Network flaws that can lead to attacks on your router
  • Junk files and unnecessary apps that interfere with operations

The scan is applicable to free and paid versions of the software. Once the Avast full system scan is complete, you can review the results and resolve any issues that have been identified. The provider recommends that users select all the unsecured threats and click “Resolve All”. Alternatively, you can choose to skip the vulnerabilities and resolve them later, but that’s not recommended.    

However, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid package for a more advanced Avast online scan, which includes monitoring data breaches for compromised passwords to your online accounts. And if you’re thinking about switching to another operator rather than upgrading, bear in mind Avast’s plans are more affordable than some of the alternatives like Kaspersky.

Malware Protection

Avast’s malware protection tools not only block malicious code but also scan your device for any existing threats. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

  • Real-time protection which blocks viruses, trojans, spyware, and other types of malware 
  • Complete malware detection that prevents you from sharing any infected files with other users
  • In-depth scans of your entire system aimed at detecting hidden malware
  • Removable drive scans to help you inspect external drives (USBs, CDs, etc.)
  • Custom scans on individual files or folders for faster targeted inspections
  • Scheduled scans for when you’re away from your device
  • Security reports that provide you with the Avast malware list and detailed information every 30 days
  • Real-time security updates and novel features which update automatically

Web and Email Security

Avast identifies and exposes unsecured Wi-Fi networks. This feature is designed to prevent hackers from gaining access to your system through vulnerabilities in Wi-Fi networks. You can get this feature with the free version of the software.

Among other free features, Avast also offers a decent email security mechanism, which notifies you about unsafe websites, stops dangerous email attachments, prevents intrusive web tracking, and blocks suspicious downloads. This is one of the most popular features, according to numerous online Avast antivirus reviews. The popularity can be explained by the fact that most viruses gain access to your devices via suspicious emails.

By upgrading to a paid subscription, you’ll get instant alerts about network security weaknesses and intruders. This is an important asset because it informs you if hackers are trying to access your Wi-Fi and enables you to catch them in the act. In addition to keeping hackers out, it also prevents anyone from reducing your network speed with unwelcomed video streaming. The advantages of these features cannot be understated and are definitely worth the upgrade to Premium.

Avast Ransomware Shield

Avast’s Ransomware Shield is only offered with the Premium plan. This feature protects your photos, documents, and other files from being tampered with, deleted, or encrypted by ransomware attacks. It identifies and automatically secures folders containing any personal data.

Users can manage their shield activity by either choosing the Smart Mode setting, which includes a list of trusted programs that are permitted to modify protected files or the so-called Strict Mode that asks for permission each time a new application attempts any modifications.  

It’s also worth noting that Avast has an impressive track record when it comes to ransomware protection, outperforming competitors like McAfee.

Avast Business Features

Aside from individuals, the software also caters to businesses. Avast antivirus reviews all the potential vulnerabilities in the modern workplace and protects your business from a broad range of cybersecurity threats.

Small Businesses

Avast’s Small Office Protection plan is suitable for any type of small business. It can be used on up to 10 devices and is easily customizable. Here are some of the key features:

  • Multi-OS support offers advanced endpoint security for both desktop and mobile devices, including PCs, Macs, as well as iOS and Android systems.
  • Business-level customer support with 24-hour assistance from experts who are available via phone, email, and live chat
  • Avast Ransomware Shield secures the files in your protected folders. 
  • Remote Access Shield prevents unwanted remote connections to your office network.
  • File Shield scans everything from URLs to email attachments to prevent malware and ransomware from affecting your system.
  • Wi-Fi Inspector identifies and fixes potentially harmful vulnerabilities in your network. 
  • Real-Site conducts web threat scanning and keeps your employees safe from fake websites. 
  • Sandbox provides a program testing space, separated from the rest of the PC.
  • A customizable firewall filters network traffic and blocks unreliable connections.
  • Sensitive Data Shield prevents spyware from accessing sensitive documents. 
  • Data Shredder permanently deletes any file that you don’t want to recover.
  • Phishing Net is an anti-phishing tool that uses the Avast cloud database to protect businesses. 
  • Avast browser protection tools identify suspicious URLs and certificates to ensure browser security even before a connection is established. 

All-in-one Protection 

If the Small Office Protection plan isn’t sufficient for your needs, Avast offers an alternative in the form of a more comprehensive all-in-one protection plan for medium and large businesses. The plan can equip up to 1,000 employees, and the cost is determined per device, so you don’t have to pay for the protection you don’t use.  

It has some of the same granular features as its predecessor with a few additional assets. Here’s what you’ll get with this Avast virus protector.

  • Cloud-based solutions with no installation requirements or hardware-related fees 
  • Patch management to identify and deploy the necessary security patches as well as track ongoing activities 
  • A secure web gateway to prevent dangerous downloads and URLs from approaching your network
  • Next-generation endpoint protection with CloudCare that prevents spyware, malware, ransomware, and any other type of threat

Advanced Plan

Our Avast antivirus review wouldn’t be complete without looking at Avast’s advanced protection plan for MSSPs and resellers. The most valuable component of the advanced plan is CloudCare, which provides all of Avast’s security features via the cloud. This is what you can expect from the advanced plan:

  • A single platform that helps MSPs increase efficiency and reduce total TCOs
  • Comprehensive cloud security tools that scan all incoming and outgoing traffic, including SSL and CDN
  • Makes it easy to manage and protect all of your devices, data, and networks in one place
  • Reduces costs by phasing out appliances

Avast performance 

In January 2020, media reports exposed Avast’s data-selling subsidiary, known as Jumpshot. The company has since pulled the plug on the program that collected and sold the browsing data of its users. So is Avast safe to use today?

Similar to other industry giants, Avast employs the services of independent labs to test its products, including Austria’s AV-Comparatives. The organization’s lab results from July-August 2020 revealed that Avast prevented 99.7% of the malicious code used during the tests. And although these were impressive results, other companies did better. For instance, F-Secure, Trend Macro, Panda, and G Data all scored 100%. 

However, AV-Comparatives recorded a notable improvement on the part of Avast, with their September 2020 report when it blocked 100% of the online threats and 92% of all offline threats. Additionally, it managed to pass the test with only 10 false alarms, compared to Panda’s 114.

It may not be the best option on the market, but the overall Avast rating places the software in the same league with the world’s most prominent brands. 

No one can deny that Avast has a sketchy track record when it comes to privacy. But the company has reassured users that Avast scams are a thing of the past.

As far as any Avast performance issues are concerned, the sole aspect of Avast that seems to be frustrating its users is the continuous, often unavoidable upgrade offers that encourage you to buy the paid Premium plan. 

This is a common practice among all free software since the company, naturally, wants its users to start paying for the program. If you’re used to free software, this probably won’t bother you. But if you’re not that fond of constantly being interrupted by offers, this might be a deal-breaker. Luckily, the Premium plan comes at a reasonable price, and it’s definitely worth paying if you wish to avoid the ads.

Ease-of-Use

On a positive note, Avast offers tons of guides that help you download and install the software in the blink of an eye by clicking on the Avast Download Free button. The whole process takes mere seconds, and the procedure for the Premium plan is also pretty quick, with the payment screen being one click away. If you decide to go with the Premium option, the renew Avast button is also easy to locate. And just like its competitors McAfee and Kaspersky, Avast offers licenses for multiple devices. As far as we’re concerned, Avast gets a solid 10 for ease of use.

Platforms and Apps

Online Avast antivirus reviews only serve to confirm customer satisfaction with the software’s extensive compatibility options. Avast supports all major platforms, including Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. In fact, as soon as you log onto the website, Avast can tell which platform you’re using in order to tailor the results to your specific needs. 

This is a very useful component as it saves you a lot of time and gives you quick access to the list of features and options that are relevant to your operating system. As such, users shouldn’t encounter any complications regardless of whether they opt for Avast Windows or any other OS. Compared to Kasperky’s Total Protection, which limits mobile device protection to a few essential features, Avast provides its iOS users with maximum protection.

Plans and Pricing

Compared to other industry-leading antivirus software, Avast comes with mid-range prices. The three main packages are the Free version, Avast One, and Premium Security. A more detailed examination of Avast pricing reveals that Avast One is perhaps the most suitable option for a wide variety of customers. 

It provides all the features that are available with the free version, including six layers of protection against viruses as well as a free VPN to ensure private browsing. But it goes a few steps further by monitoring your online accounts for breaches, preventing advertisers from tracking your activities, and incorporating an anti-spam filtering service. All this costs $3.99/month or $47.88 for the first year with five devices. But you can use up to 50 devices for just $5.99/month ($71.88 per year). 

Meanwhile, Windows users get to enjoy ransomware protection for free, whereas those using a  Mac will have to upgrade to Premium. Avast for iPad/iPhone as well as Android includes an anti-theft feature and a vault for locking up private photos. 

You’ll get a Web Shield and the so-called Wi-Fi Inspector with the Premium version on both Windows and Mac, while iOS users get the option to monitor unlimited email addresses for password leaks. Android fans who sign up for Premium get peace of mind with the Camera Trap tool, which secretly captures photos and audio of the thief if the device is stolen. 

Bear in mind that the pricing structure underwent changes in recent years. If you’re trying to download Avast Internet Security, you should know that this option departed from the lineup along with the all-include Avast Premier.   

Those two options have been replaced by Premium Security, which is 4.17/month ($49.99/year) for a single Mac. The price is slightly lower for one PC and comes in at just under $40/year. Of course, you have the option to use it on up to 10 devices, which costs $49.99. 

In short, the Avast Internet Security vs. Premier showdown is no longer relevant, with Premium now offering the most advanced features under one roof at affordable prices.

But this is more than just an antivirus. For those who are more concerned about hiding their online activities and automatically connecting to an optimal server, Avast also offers a separate SecureLine VPN. The service costs $59.88 for one year, $95.76 for two years, or $143.64 if you commit for three years. Of course, these are long-term commitments, which is why you get seven days to test out the service thanks to the free Avast trial option. 

Customer Support

The level of support depends on the plan you choose. Those using free Avast protection can turn to the extensive knowledge base or try to get advice from more experienced members of the Avast community. 

Meanwhile, paying customers can get in touch with the company’s support agents who are available through multiple channels, including email, live chat, and an Avast helpline. The call center consists of trained tech professionals who are available 24/7 and capable of assisting you with any Avast issues that you may encounter. 

Avast Alternatives

We’ve also taken the time to evaluate some of the alternative options to see where Avast stands in the vast antivirus software market.

McAfee Total Protection

If you’re looking for a truly affordable comprehensive security system, Avast comes in second to McAfee Total Protection. In addition to two years of premium antivirus, this package also includes PC optimization and a password manager with a VPN. It has a unique way of combining comprehensive online security with multi-faceted privacy protection. More importantly, covering one device will cost you $29.99, which is $10 less than what Avast is offering.       

For those who are still unsure whether you want Avast or McAfee, the notable difference in price may sway them towards the latter option.   

ESET Smart Security Premium

ESET Smart Security Premium is another Avast competitor. It offers an award-winning antivirus while providing advanced security for its customers online. However, if you’re a macOS user, some features won’t be available to you. Moreover, ESET Smart Security Premium is more expensive than Avast, with protection for a single device costing $59.99 per year.  

However, some of the online Avast reviews on pros and cons often point to higher satisfaction among ​​ESET users when it comes to customer support.

Kaspersky 

For its part, Kaspersky offers a two-year subscription for its Total Security software, which saves you a few bucks. Total Security by Kaspersky is another great option for anyone looking to invest in antivirus software. This one offers all of the essential features with a few additional perks. But Avast’s free version is widely considered a better-rounded security offering. 

Is Avast Antivirus for You?

While there is no shortage of more advanced options, Avast is definitely worth looking into. When it comes to its core features, the Avast free version does a great job in protecting your PC. If you’re considering Avast and compare it to other services, you’ll notice that the free plan is even better than some of the paid options from competitors.

Simply put, if you’ve decided to use a free antivirus, you can’t go far wrong with Avast. It’ll make sure that your PC is safe, and you’ll get the peace of mind you’re looking for. But if you’re interested in investing in your PC security and you’re experiencing the Avast free vs. paid dilemma, you may want to consider some of Avast’s competitors.

FAQs

1. Is Avast good?

Avast is definitely one of the better options on the market. Their free version of the software runs pretty efficiently and does a pretty good job protecting your PC. Avast offers the possibility to upgrade to a Premium plan for more advanced protection.

2. Is Avast safe?

In 2020, media reports revealed that Avast was selling user data through its subsidiary, Jumpshot. However, after the revelations were made, the company made a U-turn and has since canceled its data-selling program. 

3. Is Avast worth paying for?

Avast offers a decent free antivirus software which does a great job. If you’re interested in investing in security, Avast has some quality programs; however, you can find better options on the market.

4. Does Avast work?

According to lab results from AV-Comparatives, Avast works pretty efficiently. The latest AV-Comparatives report revealed that Avast was able to block 100% of the malicious file samples used during the testing.

5. Is Avast free?

Yes, Avast is free to download and use; however, the free version contains only the essential features, whereas upgrading to a Premium plan gives you access to more advanced tools.

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